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Old 02-06-2014, 12:11 AM
Location: Anchorage Suburbanites and part time Willowbillies
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A similar discussion.

Vehicle to handle winter
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:20 AM
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
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Drove to Anchorage and back today. Dry pavement all the way. Nice drive.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:15 AM
Location: Inland Empire, WA
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Originally Posted by tigre79 View Post
Having a narrow wheelbase and low clearance doesn't help in that situation either, since you don't fit in the tracks very well. And lighter vehicles get caught in that heavy snow/slush pretty bad. Just don't have the mass to get through it without it throwing you off course. My little Taco used to get bounced around pretty good when I'd rally it around town on deep days. Had big tires and I kept on the gas and it did mostly what I wanted it to, though. Take it out of 4wd and it just slid all over the place, which is fun if you're not trying to get anywhere. Definitely not going to see me driving a RWD anything in any real winter situations.

Anyways, the only point was that people do drive small cars even here, but there are times when it's challenging. If you don't need a truck for some other reason, I'd recommend a Subie or AWD crossover of some kind.

Well, it is the snowiest community in North America, but most of the time when it's not really dumping it's just a bit of snow on the road or packed snow or patchy ice. And the highway is usually plowed somewhat quickly. Similar conditions to snowy days elsewhere, just more often. We're at an advantage over Anchorage/MatSu and Fairbanks in that we don't have the same amount of traffic on the road (and don't have as many new or temporary residents). I'd much rather drive around here in the winter than in Anchorage.

At any rate, people do get used to the environment they're in and learn how to deal with the conditions, and driving in inclement weather is a skill that can be learned, which I think is a good thing for new residents to remember. Try to be cautious but not nervous and safely test out the traction before you need it if you're unsure of the road conditions. You'll get the hang of it.

I kid you not, there is a vehicle here with bright pink headlights, and one with bright green headlights. Both totally blinding. What the heck. For the new people, just get some reasonable moose lights and use them on the highway, or replace your high beams if you can. Don't replace your normal low beams with something that blinds everyone on the road. You really don't need that in town.
I agree, poor clearance and narrow wheel base is an additional problem. Yes, AWD crossovers and Subarus are excellent recommendations, particularly for people with little to no experience in Alaska winter driving conditions, and they will shorten the learning curve.
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:25 PM
Location: Alaska
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Here, the main roads are plowed multiple times and side streets at most, once a day (never on weekends). They'll also sand and gravel the main roads and many intersections (they use deicers too in intersections). We drive AWD or 4WD vehicles with all season tires.

We have drivers who drive too fast for the conditions (known as ditch divers), and drivers who drive too slow for the conditions (a cause of ditch divers). I like to believe I drive right for the conditions, which means I go 55 when in the clear (assuming conditions allow it), slowing down to 45 as I approach and pass the 40 mph drivers. As others have said, be aware of the conditions and drivers as far down the road as you can see. Be aware of fast approaching drivers behind you, given current road conditions. It might be better to slow down and let them go into the ditch well ahead of you. Also, be aware that conditions can change immediately. I once started to change lanes just after I rounded a curve and the slush between the lanes was deeper than I thought. It took me half a mile to complete the lane change as turning harder or pulling back would have sent me into a spin.
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Old 02-06-2014, 02:10 PM
Location: Inland Empire, WA
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I forgot to mention in a previous regarding AWD, 4x4, RWD, etc, that I rarely ever put my truck into 4x4, so in effect, I am driving around a RWD pickup almost always. Normally I just use it to pull out from a parking lot or from a stop at a light, etc, if conditions are too slippery for me to get the diesel power to the ground in a reasonable amount of time and minimal tire slippage.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:05 PM
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
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Of two similarly designed vehicles that wear the same tires, the one with FWD is superior on ice and snow to the RWD one. But if one has gotten used to driving RWD vehicles and then switch to FWD, this could be dangerous without proper training if driving on slippery roads.

Switching one's brain from RWD to FWD driving is not easy, since braking and controlling skids are often handled differently. For example, if the wheels on a FWD vehicle start to spin on a turn, just don't pull your foot off the gas pedal because you need the front wheels to pull you through the turn. Just reduce the amount of pressure on the gas pedal "slightly" to allow the tires to provide traction, but keep enough pressure on the gas pedal to maintain acceleration, and point the wheels in the direction you want the vehicle to go. The same vehicle but with RWD is handled in a different manner on the same turn. In this case the front wheels are turned in the direction of the skid, and most times pulling the foot off the gas pedal stops the skid, at which time you can turn the wheels in the right direction while gently pressing the gas pedal move forward.

When driving a RWD vehicle, if one of the front tires grab the snow that has drifted in the path of the vehicle, the tendency is for the vehicle's rear end to try to pass the front end since the rear wheels are pushing the vehicle forward. If it's a FWD vehicle being driven at the moment, just don't pull your foot off the gas since the front wheels are pulling the car.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:19 PM
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
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The roads and weather by Anchorage is different than what's experienced in Fairbanks, and even Homer, so it's not quite accurate for one to bunch all road conditions as being the same. Alaska has a great landmass, so even by Healy-in relation to Fairbanks-road conditions are different.

The reason for the chipped or broken windshields is not only because the crushed gravel used for road traction, but also because we often drive on graveled roads. That said, one of the primary reasons, but not the only one, for having chips on the windshield when driving on paved roads is tailgating, or just having to stay behind a slow driver hugging the right lane in the middle of the winter Right after the snow falls, only the right lane is open because of traffic. But even with the lane completely clear of snow and ice some drivers just bring the traffic on the right lane to a standstill, and most other drivers can't pass on the snow-covered left lane. Some drivers try to pass either end in the ditch, or pass successfully as a huge without is created in front of those who have been passed.

If the right lane is nice and dry, by all means do at least the speed limit to keep the traffic flowing.

Last edited by RayinAK; 02-07-2014 at 05:30 PM..
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:21 PM
941 posts, read 1,472,441 times
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Alaska as a State is trying to pacify the clowns who think they always have to drive the speed limit with laws like the one that says if you have more than a certain number of vehicles behind you must pull over and let them pass. While I lived in Alaska I know someone who was doing the speed limit with seven cars behind him and he was given a ticket for the offense. He questioned the issuance of the ticket when his lawyer declared that he would have to be an accessory to the crime the other drivers would be committing, who wanted to go faster than the speed limit, if he pulled over when he was going the speed limit. His lawyer disputed that when going the speed limit set by the State the State could require a driver going that speed limit to allow lawbreakers to break the law by having to pull over. By what rule of law could he be forced to do an act to allow other drivers who were willing to violate the law by even catching up with his client to commit that crime?

By what stretch of the imagination could drivers who had violated the speed limit by catching up with someone who was doing the speed limit not be found guilty of a crime by their acts? The fact was if the police officer did check the speed the line of traffic was going all of the drivers behind the first driver should have been issued a ticket because the officer had prima facie evidence that the entire line had exceed the speed limit. The front driver's testimony as to his driving the speed limit would have made the entire group of followers guilty of that secondary crime. And does Alaska have anything like selective enforcement of the law a crime when an officer chooses to give one person a ticket and not the other violators a summons? Some how giving the lawful driver a ticket makes a mockery of Alaska Law when all he was doing was stopping lawbreakers from breaking the law.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:32 PM
Location: Valdez, Alaska
2,762 posts, read 4,205,807 times
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Oh good grief, the targets for that law are the people (both tourists and locals) who can't seem to manage going faster than 45 on the highway even when conditions are perfect. I see it every day and twice a day in the summer. Maybe occasionally some trooper wants to press the letter of the law (maybe because they were one of the cars in line behind the guy), but it's pretty ridiculous to take that example and then proclaim the entire law pointless.

And also, you're about three time zones way from the topic of this thread. This isn't the richelles show.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:33 PM
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
16,178 posts, read 27,498,181 times
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Can you post the link to your story, Richelles?

I do know that one can get a ticket for driving under 45MPH-if one does not have a reason to drive this slow-on a 55 or 65MPH zone during the summer when the roads are free of ice, rain, or anything that makes the road slippery. But during the winter the maximum speed limit posted does no apply. In fact one can get a ticket from driving too fast for conditions, regardless of what the road sign indicates. Even if you are driving 5MPH and drive into the ditch during the winter you can get a ticket for driving too fast for conditions.
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