Turn Your Back on Winter
For most of us who drive a lot, winter weather is an almost constant pain -- like a bunion in your shoe you can’t quite get to heal. First, of course, you have the cold, which is bad enough. But then, when you factor in the snow, sleet, rain, howling winds and dreary hours of darkness, you have a recipe for a season-long dose of dreadfulness.
According to the American Meteorological Society, there are approximately 1.2 million weather-related car accidents in the United States each year. Now they don’t all occur in the winter, but the bulk of them do. Inclement weather conditions -- such as rain, snow, sleet and fog -- demand that drivers maintain increased stopping distances, decrease their highway speeds, and avoid making sudden stops or abrupt lane changes. If they don’t, they have a tendency to collide with each other and with other objects that have the misfortune of being beside them on the roadway. We figure you have two choices when it comes to winter: you can do something about it, or you can ignore it and everything associated with it. If you take the second course -- otherwise known as denial -- here are some items and procedures you can routinely disregard:
Sure, many states require you to turn on your headlights on when you encounter rain, snow and foggy conditions … and then there’s that old darkness thing. But animals get by in the dark without headlights or taillights, so why can’t you?
Windshield and Windshield Wipers
Think of what driving your car would be like without a windshield. Your vision would be unobstructed by the dirt, grime and filth that routinely soils the expanse of glass. While windshield wipers are designed to address those issues, you and I know full well that they can sometimes make them far worse. It can be like asking Willie Sutton to fix the banking crisis. We say forget about your windshield and windshield wipers altogether.
Coolant? It’s winter, isn’t it? Who needs coolant? Aren’t things cool enough around here? When I go outside I often start shivering, and it’s not because Scarlett Johansson just walked by. Yes, your engine does have a very rapid series of controlled burns going on every minute it operates, but during the coldest months of the year, coolant might be regarded as an expensive redundancy. Think Joe Biden.
Tires do form the only connection between your car and the road. That we freely admit, but aren’t all tires just round hunks of black rubber? Could there possibly be a difference between them, or any reason to pay any attention to them? Some might tell you that new, high-quality tires can allow your car to brake more quickly, handle better and avoid danger on the road, but it could well be you don’t care about that. You’ve got other things to worry about, like whether or not “Parks and Recreation” recorded on your DVR.
As a matter of fact, if you’re prepared to disregard all these items, you might want to disregard driving too. After all, with all these things you have to ignore, it might be easier to just take the bus.
is a Driving Today contributing editor who writes frequently about automotive safety issues, including inclement weather.