Q We have been driving to Truckee and nearby ski areas for many years, and have discovered there are three basic categories of drivers on Interstate 80. The differences stand out when chain controls are in effect:
A Such as ...
Q Super timid drivers, white knuckles on steering wheel at speeds under 15 mph IN THE FAST LANE! Ricky Racer types who drive in excess of safe speeds in the snow, going just as fast as they would on dry pavement. These folks are often noted in AWD vehicles such as the Subaru WRX STI, or Audi S-types, and often end up far into the snowbanks, with road signs or trees rearranging the car bodywork.
A But then along comes ...
Q Drivers who maintain a speed that ensures safe passage, avoiding sudden acceleration and skid-inducing braking. Add to this prudent use of turn signals as they carefully pass the white-knuckled and avoid the Ricky Racers.
A And ...
Q Also, tell readers that the M+S tires differ vastly, and a true winter tire is a great investment. 4WD or AWD on mediocre tires is no better than chains on 2WD, except that one can drive faster, because of false confidence.
A And one more tip for driving in snow country.
Q I have a 2011 Subaru Outback all-wheel drive. The dealer says to put snow chains on the front wheels. Wouldn't the rear wheels be a better choice when thinking about stopping? I don't want the rear trying to pass my front.
A Install chains on one set of the drive tires if you have a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle. This can be either the two front tires or the two rear tires. Caltrans says rear tires are preferred, unless the vehicle manufacturer recommends they be put on the front. You can install chains on all four. Front-wheel drive vehicles must have chains on the front drive axle wheels when chains are required.
Go to dot.ca.gov/dist3/departments/mtce/controlmp.htm for chain rules.
Q I travel Bear Creek Road and I've noticed what looks like a speed survey at the bottom of Bear Creek near Highway 17 and near Highway 35.
My problem with the survey is that the bottom location is very close to a stop sign, and drivers will be slowing for the sign when coming down the road, or they will be just starting from a standstill when going up the road. The second location is no better since it is near a sharp corner, and drivers will be slowing to negotiate the turn.
I feel this is an attempt to game the system and artificially lower the speed on Bear Creek. This same method was used a few years ago on Highway 9 from the Summit to Saratoga. The survey was placed near the stop sign at the summit, and now we are stuck with a 30 mph speed limit from the Summit to Saratoga.
A Santa Clara County has launched a project to review standards on 580 miles of rural roads that haven't been updated since the early 1970s. They are most interested in the number of vehicles using these roads. They'll also sample speeds but that data is secondary to volume counts.