Winter Driving Techniques

“Speed is the number one factor that causes crashes out on the highway,” says Scott Robertson, a professional driver with the DriveTeam Training Center in Cuyahoga Falls.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Pro drivers say a few simple tactics or techniques can greatly reduce your chances of a winter accident.

“When people do not decrease their speed when there is snow or ice on the road, you’re going to end up with something like you had on I-90.”

On Wednesday, a stretch of Interstate 90 in both directions had to be closed in Lake County when snowy and icy conditions contributed to more than half a dozen accidents involving dozens of vehicles.  Hundreds more motorists were stranded in traffic for up to 5 hours.

Robertson ran through a series of demonstrations on DriveTeam’s test track, which was coated with a slick layer of snow. Using a 2005 Toyota Camry with anti-lock brakes, Robertson slammed on the brakes at certain speeds and measured the distance it took to stop.

At 40 miles per hour, the car came to a full stop at 230 feet, then at 250 feet in a second test when the track was slightly icier.  By reducing the speed to 30 miles per hour, stopping distances of between 95 and 110 feet were realized, less than half the distance at 40 mph.

“Speed is the number one contributor to accidents whether it’s on a side street, a state route, or a highway,” Robertson commented.

Then, by reducing driving speed to 20 miles per hour, the Camry came to a stop at an average of 33 feet, even with the DriveTeam test track becoming increasingly slick.

Robertson and DriveTeam also had two other strategies they say are simple but very effective in reducing the chances of wintertime accident in Northeast Ohio.

“The second things you want to do is increase your following distance. That’s one of the other factors that was involved in the I-90 crash.”

“And the third,” he concluded, “and one of the most important, is vehicle maintainance. You want to have excellent tires on your vehicle at all times.”

Story by: Dick Russ