Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Greetings from the scenic metropolis of Mt. Vernon, Kentucky!

After almost eight hours of driving past slide-offs, idling in endless traffic jams, and slithering unscathed right through one NASCAR-grade pileup, I pulled off the skating brink mislabelled "I-75" and holed up in a motel.

The weatherman is a lying fink.

I am now a total believer in antilock brakes. There is nothing like seeing a guy waving his arms in the middle of the freeway, flooring the brakes and steering for daylight through the middle of an apocalyptic dozen-car wreck to make you get that religion. (Especially when the pileup included Audi, Honda, and GMC SUV's, and I was in a skateboard wearing summer sports.)

More later.


Joseph said...

The "I" in I-75 stands for ice don't ya know. Glad you're safe and sound, was that the 41 car pileup they reported this morning on the news?

I got the religion on anti-lock a long time ago and was reminded recently when I was able to steer clear of causing a pile-up of my own. Sadly, my truck needed a new right side after I tried to squeeze it past some trees. Much better than pushing someone else's back bumper past the steering wheel and on into the next car. Sometimes technology can bail you out when you are a dumbass.

B said...

Yeah, likely this one:


Glad yer ok!

Tam said...

Mine was on 65 just south of Greenwood, actually.

Local news here says a tanker wreck shut down 75 South for 4 hours twenty miles ahead just about the time I pulled over.

Netpackrat said...

ABS has saved my ass on a number of occasions. We get about 8 months of snow and ice each year around here and I love me some ABS.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Yeesh! Makes that trip back from North Coast Blogshoot in the monsoon, plus the 30 mile turnpike backup, seem like a walk in the park. (It's a good thing MBtGE opted for the periscope option on the HHR, as most of the trip underway was submerged)

Turk Turon said...

Glad you're OK!

Anonymous said...

Shocked, just flabbergasted, that the weather cretin got it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Antilock brakes are wonderful. Ask your friendly airline pilot.

Trouble is, there's no way to test them. It's a complicated system full of things that can go spung! without any visible evidence, whereupon you may be worse off than before they were invented. Take the car out to a parking lot somewhere and try them out once in a while.

There's also the problem those of us have who learned to do it by hand, or by foot, as it were. If the system is working, you're much better off reacting the way you used to deride people for -- panic-push the pedal to the floor -- because the system can do better than you can, and all you can do is confuse it. When your slick-driving reflexes were built using a '48 Dodge pickup that can be hard to do.


Larry said...

Got the update from your roomie (she's first on the blog-roll), sounds like you've had an...interesting...trip so far.
Here's a wish for better conditions for the rest of the trip, for all the good it does.

Farmmom said...

Glad you are safe and be careful on the rest of the trip.

Chris said...

Here's wishing the rest of your trip is boring.

Bram said...

I still have mixed feelings on the ABS. Having learned on a completely manual car, I don't get the feedback I'm used to.

Used to know as soon as I felt the slide that trouble was coming. Sometimes the gas and steering saved me - sometimes letting the wheels lock for a while was the best solution.

perlhaqr said...

Exciting! Happy to know you are so far unscathed, though.

BTW: I made it to Seattle. :)

SpeakerTweaker said...

Just saw news on that little fender-bender. Glad you're okay.


Anonymous said...

You got the wammy of KDOT being off for the day and the US Weather Service recovering from too much Makers Mark.

We had snow flurries and dropping temps here in SO Kentucky so everyone scampered home before it got bad.

Getting off the road while hotels are still available was the smart move.


David said...

+1 Ric

I have learned to add "trusting the technology" to my driving toolbox. Know your vehicle, know your driving skill (or lack thereof) and use the tools you have available.

My daughter was in a dry road accident just last night. Traffic suddenly stopped in front of her, she was going too fast and ended up smacking the car in front of her. No one was hurt, other car was able to drive away, her's wasn't. She was lamenting while we were waiting for the tow truck that she should have swerved onto the shoulder of the road, just like she had seen me do a few years ago in a similar situation. She asked "Why didn't i even think to try that, when you just did it?" The only answer I had was the difference between her 2 years and couple thousand miles of driving experience and my 40 years and over a million miles driving experience. (I am very glad she did not think to try it. She would have probably rolled her car. She has no experience in making small sharp fast maneuvers in a car. Something we talked about fixing when she is home this next summer.)

I learned to love ABS about 10 years ago while sliding down I80 in Western Wyoming. Semi truck in front of me, semi truck behind me, semi truck on my left and a too narrow shoulder and very deep ditch on my right. Another vehicle spinning down the middle of both lanes of the interstate up ahead of us. The semi truck in front of me was slowing down faster than I was able to slow down our van, using every bit of winter driving skill I had learned in 30 years. Finally I remembered that I had ABS and traction control in the car and nothing I was doing was going to stop me from hitting the semi in front of me I stepped firmly and steadily on the brakes. It was a little disconcerting feeling the brake pedal bucking under my foot and my steering wheel jerking in my hands, but we stopped - 4 inches from the back of the semi in front of us. The one behind us stopped about 3 feet from our rear bumper.

Crustyrusty said...

Greetings from Winchester...

These people around here don't know what road salt is :p

DaddyBear said...

Glad you're OK. I stayed off the interstates in Louisville yesterday. The highway department hadn't done any brining or have any plows out.

When you come back through Louisville, you can simplify your trip through downtown by coming over to I-65 from I-64 on either I-264 or I-265. No need to try to negotiate Spaghetti Junction if you don't have to, especially in the slippery part of the year.

Don M said...

Most antilock brakes are tested each time you start up the care, while you are going at about 4 miles an hour the first time after start-up.

You may notice a buzz.

The problem is, people are too darned smart. Once they figure they have antilock brakes, people drive faster, with less space cushion, adding enough hazard to compensate for the ABS, so they meet their accepted level of risk.

Moral of the story: Don't be that kind of smart.

Bubblehead Les. said...

As bad as you are cussing right now, just think of all those wonderful TSA Checkpoints you avoided.

Tom said...

If you had made it a couple more exits down to Corbin you could have passed time talking with my son. That was a mess.

As for the SUVs you mentioned, my experience is that about 75% of the vehicles I see off the road either upside, in ditches or medians, or smashed into things are generally 4 wheel drive.

Hope the rest of the trip goes better. My rural mail carrier wife hasn't called. Yet.

8Notch said...

Tom said, "As for the SUVs you mentioned, my experience is that about 75% of the vehicles I see off the road either upside, in ditches or medians, or smashed into things are generally 4 wheel drive."

I read a comment once, it might have been here in fact, to the effect of "4 wheel drive helps you get started; STOPPING is up to God".

Anonymous said...

So I take it you found a fix for the rim problem you had a while back?

Tam said...

Anon 5:37,

I've got a sealant Band-Aid on it for now that seems to be holding.

Matt G said...

I used to hate ABS. It felt strange.

But I've had it save my bacon enough times when I had to panic stop on slick roads, that I know it's the good-good.

I'm glad that you're okay, and had sense enough to to pull silk early.

Ruth said...

I gotta agree that ABS sure feels strange when you're not used to it.

And I'd be shocked if at least half those SUV's weren't 4wd. I used to work for AAA, we pulled huge numbers of 4 & all wheel drives out of ditches.

Johnnyreb™ said...

ABS in a car always freaks me out when it kinda hesitates before engaging. But with a tractor trailer it's a no-brainer. I'll never pull another trailer without it.

Drang said...

"Skating brink". Was that deliberate?

Ruth @ 8:00PM: As others have observed in various ways, many folks get a 4WD or AWD vehicle and never learn to use it.

Eric said...

In going through TEVOC at Quantico they made is stand on the brakes at 30, 35, 40, 50 and 55mph so we got used to it. Then they put us on a cradle that lifted the car almost off the driving surface and we did that for an entire day. Simulating ice and other slick substances...it's odd doing it but I am a MUCH better driver now than I was before and I grew up in a snow/ice/mountain roads area.


vw: Penuing - What caused the accidents in KY

Netpackrat said...

>The only answer I had was the
>difference between her 2 years and
>couple thousand miles of driving
>experience and my 40 years and over
>a million miles driving experience.

I don't think experience has as much to do with it, as being inclined to think outside of the box. Plenty of experienced, skilled drivers will keep plowing on forward, struggling to make a stop that can't be made, rather than make use of a perfectly good snowberm or whatever.

Hell, all you have to do is look at the polished ruts at every intersection in Anchorage right now. The vast majority of people can't figure out that moving a foot to one side or the other will put them on better traction where the sand hasn't been stripped away yet by other drivers.

Also, saying that 4wd only helps you go is complete bull. It adds directional stability and in a non-ABS vehicle, it reduces the likelihood of locking up individual wheels. And besides that, sometimes the best way to avoid an accident is being able to move NOW, the best defense being not to occupy the space that another vehicle is about to slide through.

Will said...


I've got an AWD (turbo) Talon, and I play with it on on/off ramps to keep attuned to capabilities. I've noticed that when it starts to feel pushy (front end plowing), an increase of throttle makes the front start to track better.

Odd feeling to have that front start to pull back to the inside of the curve. Normally, backing off to get more weight on the front tires would be the answer. That, or stomping on it to get the rear end out and steer with the throttle.
Which this car will do, if leaned on hard enough :)

Netpackrat said...

Yeah, you have to drive a 4WD/AWD a little differently to get the best results. Backing off on the throttle in a skid will just put more drag on the front wheels, which will make the skid worse.

You want a fun ride, try driving a rig like my Jeep that has limited slip in both ends (all gear driven, no preload/clutches in the front axle). The traction is amazing, but it requires a firm hand. You have to drive it, otherwise it will hunt around for the best traction on its own. Now that ABS is becoming more ubiquitous, I don't have the stopping advantage over the herd that I had a few years ago, but I can still get out of their way like nobody's business.