Driving in the snow | ParkRecord.com

Driving in the snow

Tom Clyde, Park Record columnist

There is additional news on the Provo Canyon sasquatch sighting. KSL is reporting that the grainy video shot by hunters a couple of weeks ago has gone viral and is being studied by international bigfoot experts.

Opinions are split. That’s understandable, since the video is of such poor quality that the creature in the woods could be anything from a potgut squirrel to a Jehovah’s Witness. So far, no link to the David Petraeus scandal has been conclusively established. But winter has come, so there’s no way to return to the site to investigate further.

The long, warm fall was so nice that I hadn’t even begun to procrastinate about putting the snow tires on the car. For a couple of days I was forced to drive my old truck. In its day, it was pretty well equipped. But the radio/CD player has never worked since I bought it used from the sheriff’s department. I suspect there is a doughnut stuck in there.

My car has all kinds of modern creature comforts like heated seats and satellite radio. The weather stripping around the doors is tight. The car also gets 50 mpg, and the truck burns so much gas that it’s hard to get from my house into town to fill it up without needing a mid-trip refueling.

But the truck has one feature the car lacks. In 4-wheel drive, the truck will actually go in the snow. The car, with all of its German engineering, is incapable of backing out of the garage if it is cloudy. The tires that came on it are great on dry pavement. They were not designed to get wet. My driveway is basically flat. The dirt road out to the highway is flat. There is a very slight incline to get on to the paved road. The car just can’t do it. Snow tires are not optional.

Once I got the snow plowed down to the mud, it was off to Burt Brothers. I have no idea how many tires they switch over in that place, spring and fall, but it’s a lot. They went at it with amazing precision and got me in and out in a remarkably short time. I’ve thought about buying another set of rims and doing the switch at home, but it’s actually quicker to take it in, even during the rush.

Winter driving conditions are back, and based on the number of cars I saw launched off the roads in every direction, we all could use a little retraining. There were a couple of cars off Highway 40 that had come to rest in positions that seemed possible only if there had been a crane involved.

People, we’ve done this before; we can do it again. So let’s all reach way back in our memories to about six months ago, when we drove on snowy roads the last time. First off, clear your windshield. The whole thing. Really. The odds of steering into a tree go way down if you can actually see the road in front of you. And not just the front. There is a reason your car came with rear-view mirrors, and they work better if there isn’t snow covering them and the back windshield. When people say they could make the drive from home to work "with their eyes closed," it’s just an expression. You really need to be able to see out of the car.

It’s also useful to clear the snow away from the headlights so they actually shine some light on the situation. Brushing the snow off the tail lights makes the brake lights and turn signals useful. And speaking of turn signals, they still work when there is snow on the road. Try it and see.

I had to go to Salt Lake the other day. The roads were basically dry, except for the places where they weren’t. The guy with the white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel and terror on his face was probably overreacting by driving 45 in the left lane. Conditions weren’t that bad, but he apparently had never seen snow before. I’m not sure that the death-grip on the wheel and the locked stare straight ahead (ignoring anything to the sides or behind) is any better than a little more relaxed approach.

But there is also the other extreme – the people in the 4×4, whether it’s an Escalade or a Subaru, who think they are bulletproof and were hitting it at 80. Sorry to deflate the bubble, but ice is ice, and an F-350 will spin just as easily as a Kia Rio if you hit the brake on an ice patch.

Let’s all just take it easy out there. It’s a long time until spring.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

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