10 Tips for Drivers Clueless About Icy Rides

Winter storms have hit several Southern states and cities including Birmingham, Alabama (pictured) hard, bringing traffic to a standstill and prompting hundreds to abandon their vehicles on highways.

There’s no official confirmation of a zombie apocalypse and we here at E3 Spark Plugs are pretty sure the Biblical rapture hasn’t taken place. But the roadways in Atlanta sure look like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

The wild weather dubbed “Snowmageddon” has hit a few Southern states that typically are not as prone to the white stuff as are our Northern neighbors. Case in point – At the time of our writing this blog entry, Atlanta’s Tuesday afternoon rush hour is now in its 22nd hour. Yep, you read that right. Twenty two hours of an epic gridlock of vehicles on the highway. Hope you brought a good book.

In what’s being called historic transportation dysfunction, Atlanta’s roadway infrastructure is failing miserably to withstand the effects of winter storms. As a result, drivers and passengers by the hundreds have abandoned their cars and trucks right there on the highways and byways, many of them spending last night sleeping in churches, high school gyms and even grocery store aisles. These include busloads of students who have yet to make it home from yesterday’s school day. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is sending out the National Guard and urging everyone to stay off the roads.

Unfortunately, the good people of Alabama, where jackknifed 18-wheelers are littering Interstate 65, aren’t faring much better. Nor are those in Florida’s panhandle or South Louisiana, where ice has shut down multiple bridges and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the world’s longest spans.

If you live in one of the areas hit by uncharacteristically snowy or icy conditions, E3 Spark Plugs offers a few tips:

  1. Slow down. Seriously. We cannot stress this enough.
  2. Don’t tailgate. Stopping suddenly on icy roads is no easy feat. Leave at least three times more space than usual.
  3. Brake gently to avoid skidding. And if your wheels do lock up, ease off the brake.
  4. Keep your lights on, even if it’s light outside. This will help make you more visible to other motorists in snowy, foggy conditions.
  5. Stick to using your low gears, particularly when traveling up or down hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive when driving icy roads. You need to stay as in-control as possible.
  7. Keep in mind that due to elevation and exposure, bridges, overpasses shaded roadways and infrequently traveled roads will ice over first.
  8. Resist the temptation to pass snow plows and sand or salt trucks. We know you’re aching to get home and these guys move like molasses. But it pretty certain that you’ll find the road in front of these slow-goers in worse condition that the road behind them. Chill or (sorry for the ironic pun) and let them do their job, which is to make your ride home safer.
  9. Don’t assume your badass four-wheel or front-wheel ride can handle any condition. Mother Nature is a wily kind of gal and is all too happy to send your ride ditch-side.
  10. If it’s an option at all, for Pete’s sake, stay home. Even if you’re a relocated Yankee for whom driving in the snow is a piece of cake, remember that we Southerners are at a bit of a loss.

From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, stay warm and safe.