Last week I wrote about how winter tires will make any vehicle good for winter driving. A reader wrote in noting that I was quite dismissive of the benefits of All Wheel Drive (AWD) in winter and that a vehicle with AWD is objectively better if it has winter tires. He’s correct; however, I understated the benefits for a few reasons. In this follow-up post, I want to go over the benefits of AWD in winter driving, and then explain why I understated those benefits in my initial post.
Over the course of winters past, I’ve been asked numerous times by acquaintances, friends and family whether a certain vehicle would be a good choice for driving winter roads. I want to cover the topic once and for-all with this post. I will go over what makes a vehicle good for winter driving and then go into detail about what makes winter tires different from all-season or summer tires.
A new distracted driving law has come into effect in Washington state, making cell-phone, or any other electronic, use while driving a primary offense (meaning you can be pulled over for it). If you drive in Washington state, take note if you've been using your phone while driving.
The Seattle Times has all of the details, but here are the key points:
Q. What is banned?
The law forbids all handheld uses. Not just phone calls, but composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph or data.
Drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.
All video watching is illegal, even in a dashboard or dash-mounted device.
This is fantastic. If you are having to hold your device in order to do something, you shouldn't be driving at the same time (including stopped at a light, where people inevitably don't see the light turn green).
Q. What's legal?
Common built-in electronics, including hands-free phones, satellite music and maps, are legal.
Drivers may even turn on a smartphone that's mounted in a dashboard cradle, for limited purposes such as navigation apps, a voice-activated call, or music streaming. The new law allows the "minimal use of a finger."
Handheld phone calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal. […] Amateur radio equipment and citizens-band radio remain legal.
This is where this law shines. It recognizes that for many people, including myself, their cell-phone is their car's entertainment system. By allowing for "minimal use of a finger", my phone can be my music and navigation center, as long as it's dash-mounted.`This use is similar to someone using the factory entertainment system in their car, which has been legal since cars have had them.
I do question how enforceable this law is, but at worst it is a step in the right direction. We will see over time how effective it is.
A couple of weekends ago, a buddy and myself took our trucks and went exploring in the southern Cascades. To say the trip was more than I was expecting would be an understatement.
A witness says the driver of a pickup truck that collided with a church minibus in rural Texas, killing 13 people, acknowledged he had been texting while driving — highlighting the dangers of sending messages on smartphones while behind the wheel.
A stark reminder that whatever the text message may be, it is never more important than the road around you while driving. Pull over and stop if it’s urgent, or save it until your destination.
Last weekend, driving back from the ski hill, I came extremely close to getting in an accident. This is a postmortem of what happened so that I can improve my driving and others can learn from my mistakes.
As a driver who has never ridden a motorcycle on the street, I’ve never understood the frustration many motorcyclists show towards laws against lane splitting, so I took it upon myself to learn about the other side.
Think of the times you have had to put your life in someone else’s hands; trusted them completely. How many times can you think of? A few? Maybe a dozen?
Indefinitely Wild has a fascinating look into the “Rewarming Drill”, performed by Navy SEALs to prepare for extreme cold weather survival:
The troops would drop their packs on the shore and march ahead fully clothed until they were neck deep in frigid water. For 12 minutes they shivered until John gave the order. With their clothes sopping, violently shaking, they emerged from the cold lake into colder air.
It’s absolutely incredible how they recover from their swim, and a true testament to the value of having the best equipment in the worst conditions:
“With a great clothing system there’s no need to carry extra layers,” John says. “It should be able to perform as a symbiotic system in the most uncompromising situations.
As a driver, I firmly believe that daytime running lights should be mandated in the US, and all countries around the world. The few possible negative effects are easily avoided, while the benefits are numerous and improve road safety for everyone.