Our theme for the month of March is “Ask the post calvin.” We’re taking on questions submitted by readers and offering our best advice.

Dear the post calvin,

How do I drive in the snow?

Sincerely,
Not From The Midwest

Dear Not From The Midwest,

Oh, how I empathize with you. I may be from the Midwest (technically), but we don’t get nearly as much snow in my hometown as you do in Michigan, and after navigating an Up North blizzard, I have definitely learned my driving-in-snow lessons the hard way.

My first winter at Calvin, I had to learn how to use a scraper. My Michigan-native friends laughed at me as I gawked at the mountain of snow on my car and fumbled with the tool my dad had knowingly stowed in the trunk of my car (always prepared). In short, I was clueless, and it was a very embarrassing experience—especially because I shoveled the snow off my windshield and straight into my boot.

To help you avoid that, and other snow faux pas, here are some tips and tricks I gathered from my four-year war with snow.

1) As my friend from California says, “just don’t.” Driving in snow proves to be the most manageable when you avoid the issue altogether. While not usually possible—that is, if you want to keep your job and your grades—this is my favorite method.

2) If your car is equipped, all-wheel drive is your best friend. I was able to power over many a snow bank with all four wheels pulling weight. It doesn’t always save you from getting stuck, but it will help you get out.

3) Take it slow. Overconfidence is dangerous in the snow (though I doubt that’s a problem for you if you’re asking this question). I would rather other drivers hate you for slow driving than for causing an accident.

4) Leave time to let your windshield defrost. I cannot tell you how many mornings I drove to class with my head sticking out the window because my windshield was a sheet of ice. 12/10 would not recommend.

5) Remember where you parked your car. There’s nothing worse than spending unnecessary time in the cold searching for your vehicle (or accidentally scraping off someone else’s car…that’s just disappointing).

6) It seems counterintuitive, but hitting the gas when you start sliding will help you regain control. If you begin to slip or go the wrong way, resist the urge to overcorrect. A dramatic swing in the other direction will throw you off even further.

7) If you feel your car sliding when you’re trying to stop, avoid slamming on your breaks. Instead, pumping your breaks will gain better traction.

And most importantly: REMAIN. CALM. Even though it may seem like you are living in an actual snow globe that will never stop shaking, panic while driving leads to problems! And while you may spend the rest of the winter debating a snowmobile purchase, I hope this advice will carry you safely through the snow to warmer days.  

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