Winter driving tips from Summit County, Colorado

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate

With plenty of snow, cold temperatures and hilly terrain, Summit County drivers are better than most when it comes to winter driving. winter driving

Steamboat Springs actually has a winter driving course where they teach people how to drive in icy conditions.  Summit County does not have that type of course, but I personally have relied on three sure things for  the 22 years I have lived in Colorado.  One is my 4 wheel drive Subaru ( I am driving my 5th one right now) and the second is my Nokian tires.   Also known as Hakkapeliitta, (or  maybe Hakka would be easier!) they are a tire that was developed in Scandanavia, made of softer rubber and with siped tread.  What is "siped"?  The tire tread has little wavy slits or grooves cut into it, which spreads the tire tread out over the road better and gives better traction. Meadow Creek Tire

I discovered the Nokian  tires a number of years ago when I went into Meadow Creek Tire in Frisco to replace my tires before winter.  I decided that the Scandanavians should know what they are doing, and went with the recommendation, and now I will not drive a car up here in the winter without them.  My last new Subaru I bought in November, and it came with Bridgestone performance tires which I promptly took off and replaced with Nokian Hakkas so that I would have good tires for winter. 

So what is my attraction to Subaru?  I have never liked driving a big car.  I tried an SUV once, several years ago, and sold it after about 18 months and went back to a Suby.  The Subaru handles wonderfully in winter weather, and without a high center of gravity, I don't have to worry about rolling it as I drive through Ten Mile Canyon, which can be very icy!  I get 28 to 30 miles a gallon, so it is economical, reliable and a workhorse. Car accident (Honda!)For those who like an SUV, they now have the Tribeca, but smaller is better as far as I am concerned.

My third tip for winter driving is just to take it easy.  No fast starts on icy roads and no quick stops.  People often pass me in terrible conditons while driving on an icy road, but they are the same people I drive past as they are trying to get out of a snowbank in the median or worse yet, on their roof on the side of the road.  You can drive a decent speed if the visibility allows, but 70 mph is way to fast for icy conditions.  55 or less will usually get you there safely on I-70.  Now if we can just get all the truckers to chain up and keep I-70 open, we will be in good shape!

UPDATE:  7 tips to B Ready for winter weather were posted today on the B Ready Blog, which is sponsored by the people at http://www.readycolorado.com/.  They are worth reading!

Winter driving photo courtesy of Flickr.com

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Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor

Kevin, I would rather have snow that heat, bugs and alligators.... But then you are probably the other way around or you would live here!

Oct 20, 2007 04:03 PM #9
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Steve, I know that they have races on Georgetown lake in the winter, with Jeeps with big spikes on their tires.  There is also a Masterdrive program that teaches anyone, but especially kids, accident avoidance maneuvers and safe driving.  My neighbor across the street races for fun, and also teaches some of the Masterdrive classes.  I am not sure if they do that in Georgetown too or if that is something else.  The one in Steamboat is sponsored by Bridgestone. 
Oct 20, 2007 04:05 PM #10
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor

Carole, as Julie echoed in the next comment, it is all about the tires.  Nothing will stop you when you are on ice, but they will sure help you get going again! 

Julie, I remember a ski trip with a very snowy driveway, and my friends with SUVs and big truck tires with lots of tread couldn't get up the drive, by my little Suby made it up just fine! 

Oct 20, 2007 04:08 PM #11
Rainer
200,847
Mana Tulberg
805 County Real Estate - Camarillo, CA
Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA
Joanne, People in Southern CA need to read this post!!!! Not that we get snow, but when the roads get a little wet it seems that people lose their driving abilities. Great post, I learned about new tires.
Oct 20, 2007 04:31 PM #12
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Mana, I lived in Southern California when I was in high school, and I remember that when it would rain, everyone would come outside and look at it!  That is how seldom we had rain.  However, I do remember that the roads would get slippery because of accumulated grime and grease until there was enough rain to wash it all off.  I think Nokian makes good rain tires too!
Oct 20, 2007 04:39 PM #13
Rainer
9,501
Tim Hoffmann & Laurie Nadeau Nationwide
Park City, UT
Joanne - Could you come to Summit County Utah to teach a Winter driving course. It seems like the first few snow falls of the year, everybody is crashing - and that is more than the already unusually high number of accidents in Utah. I think drivers licenses where given out here in Cracker Jack boxes:)
Oct 20, 2007 04:45 PM #14
Rainmaker
223,559
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO
Joanne, the VERY BEST car that I ever had for snowy roads was an old BUG- for every car I've purchased since, your suggestions are hugely helpful for anyone in a snow area- thanks!
Oct 20, 2007 05:23 PM #15
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor

Tim, the first snow here is always the same too.  We also have the issue with I-70 going right through the middle of the county, and if truckers don't chain up, they have enough accidents it has to be closed.  Then we are stuck!  I only have 3 ways to get home, and one of them closes if we have flurries, so if I-70 closes, I am on my last option.  However, most tourists don't know the 3rd road and it usually stays open. 

Laurie, I had a VW when I lived in KC, (years ago) but they don't get a lot  of snow.  They do get a lot of ice storms and nothing will navigate that!

Oct 20, 2007 07:09 PM #16
Rainmaker
204,742
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate
Glad I don't have to deal with that part of it anymore.  Last time I went to Wisconsin I had a kid playing chicken with me in the road.  He didn't know who he was messing with...no, not a mean person, just someone with very little experience on snow!  He dived out of the way on time....
Oct 20, 2007 07:19 PM #17
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Scary Chris!  That kind of thing makes a winter driving newbie never want to do it again!
Oct 20, 2007 07:43 PM #18
Rainer
71,677
Rita Taylor
None - Sanford, NC
Sanford NC Real Estate - Homes for Sale in Sanford North Carolina

Joanne,

Did you get any snow over the weekend?  I can't imagine needing snow tires but I am sure you make good use of them in the winter up there in Colorado.   

Oct 21, 2007 10:17 PM #19
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Rita, we had snow again this weekend and it is still snowing... I think it is going to be a good ski season!  My snow tires will come in handy!
Oct 21, 2007 11:07 PM #20
Rainer
12,281
Meredith Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Silverthorne, CO

Colorado is getting serious about the semis chaining up this season.  They can give them a ticket for not having chains with them if they are driving I-70, even if it is not snowing or anything.  Colorado is in the process of adding some safer chain up areas for the truckers to chain and unchain.  They aren't quite done with them yet so the last time there were chain laws all the trucks were pulled over chaining up on the shoulder (actually halfway in the slow lane) before they got to the safer chain up area.  Hopefully they will put some signs up so they know there is a safer area up ahead.  Already this season a trucker was hit and killed while chaining up his truck on the side of I-70.   We all need to be more careful out there!

Oct 22, 2007 05:23 PM #21
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Thanks to Dan Gibbs, our Representative from Summit County in the State House.  He did a good job getting us money for the chain up areas this year!
Oct 22, 2007 05:40 PM #22
Rainer
17,751
Jason Adams
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Dillon, CO
Realtor - Summit County, Colorado

On I-70 they have increased chain up areas from eleven spots to eighteen, and increased the size of most chain up areas. It should help and hopefully save lives. Everyone still needs to remember to get in the far lane and give truckers and emergency vehicles as much room as possible.

To give Subaru some props, I bought my first ALL WHEEL DRIVE car a little over a year ago, it's not a Subaru it's a Jaguar, but after owning a AWD I will never buy another car without it. They get around amazing, far better than any BAD A** 4x4 I have ever owned or seen on the road. Good tires are a must!

Oct 24, 2007 05:10 PM #23
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
All wheel drive is very efficient with gasoline too.  Most people think 4 WD uses more gas, but AWD does not!  I get 28 to 30 mpg in my Subaru.
Oct 24, 2007 06:23 PM #24
Rainer
72,272
Kristin Small
RE/MAX Southern Shores - Myrtle Beach, SC
REALTOR -GRI, Myrtle Beach Real Estate
Joanne,
We don't get much snow and ice around here.  But when we do, it's not good!  People aren't used to driving on it, so it wreaks havoc on our roads when it snows!!
Oct 28, 2007 11:29 AM #25
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
David and Kristin, when Southerners drive in the snow here in the winter, we keep our distance! 
Oct 28, 2007 11:07 PM #26
Rainer
234,246
Susie Roscoe
Signature Realty Associates - Brandon, FL
Real Estate Specialist | Brandon, FL

Steamboat would be my first priority for driving lessons!  I've never driven in the snow.  I was pretty young when we moved to FL and the rest is history.  Thanks for the wintery info...maybe we can swap stories while I share about the hurricanes we've had come through FL.  :-)  (I prefer yours though...)

Oct 31, 2007 05:13 AM #27
Rainer
83,563
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
Lessons really help when you drive in snow Susie, but I will take my snow over your hurricanes any day!
Oct 31, 2007 08:44 AM #28
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Joanne Hanson

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