Tonight, I have safe snow driving on my mind.  It’s probably because I just got rear-ended today. I say it was just a fender bender, but the bumper cracked not dented or bent.  Don’t know if it was the cold making it more brittle, or if it’s just that they are making fenders less bendable these days.

Driving in Alaska is interesting no matter the season.  You have winter with the snow and not being able to see pavement.  You have spring which brings slush and never having a clean car.  And you have construction in the summer.  Fall only lasts a couple of weeks and constructions is finishing in a hurry before snow fall.  It’s funny, they save the road painting for fall when you only have a couple of weeks to see the paint until it’s covered by snow.  But right now we are in snow season.  Fall may not technically end until December, but Alaska weather doesn’t play by those rules. It’s winter here.

I was told that the first few snows are the most dangerous because people forget how to drive in the snow.  I don’t think it’s that people have forgotten how to drive in the snow, but they remember they do it all the time and forget just how dangerous it is.  I have heard very often in the past month that you don’t really need snow tires.  I’m no expert, but I beg to differ.  With my amazing snow tires I was sliding today.  Not much and I’ve been able to regain control quickly.  And I don’t know if the lady who hit me had snow tires or not, but I’m gonna say the snowy streets caused the accident.  Look, snow deserves respect.  If you respect it, you’ll be fine.  But when you get casual about the snow, the risk factor rises.  Don’t take unnecessary chances, if there is something available to help you drive better, use it.  Yes, snow tires are expensive, but compare the cost with your insurance deductible.  And then think of the tires as their own form of insurance.

Today was actually fairly warm, I think this led to the über slippery streets.  The snow was wetter than normal.  Dry snow doesn’t have the same issues  Plus there was the perception of the conditions.  Because the sun was out and you didn’t need a jacket (the temperatures were double digits after all), people think the nice weather leads to nice roads.  It’s easier to remember the roads might be hazardous when it’s bleak and cloudy.  You need to take your time on snow, no matter how pretty the day.

All that said, driving here isn’t all bad.  Yeah, you forget what pavement looks like, but as long as someone drove the road before you just follow their tracks.  There are tons of plows so it doesn’t take long to get the streets plowed. So while white, the road is  also a few inches below the snow on the sides of the streets.  Use your snow tires, go slower than usual and you should be fine.

Lastly, the snow is beautiful.  I’ve never lived anywhere this amazing.  The snow doesn’t melt so it’s around a foot deep. It’s like living in a Christmas card.  The lower 48 can have their dry streets, I’ll take Alaska any day of the week.

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