Uber Tales, Short and Crappy Ride-Advice, Edition

Please know as a full-time Uber driver for almost four years, I have driven in some supremely crappy road conditions: raging thunderstorms, fog so thick I couldn’t see past the end of my hood, roads so dark I couldn’t see past my headlights, massive traffic jams, crazy speeders, tail-gaiting idiots galore, and a host of other hazards. Bu today was my first exposure to ice, snow, and churned up mud because I just did a very short run when the sun came out and there was some clearing on the roads because I needed some money for my dwindling bank account.

And if anyone wants to rip me about this, don’t. I heard my dad’s voice in my head ripping me a new one for doing this and let me say that man could rip better than anyone could ever dream of, even from beyond the grave. Then he started giving me advice and I was grateful for that.

I had a passenger ask me what it was like to drive today and I said take the worst road conditions and turn them up to eleven, or drive like you’re in a slow-moving version of Mario Kart. Even if the road is dry, there are chunks of ice, snow, and churned-up icy mud flying off cars and trucks and those are enough to make you skid if you go too fast. So don’t drive fast and watch your damn following distance. Because of those turtle-shell like hazards of ice, snow, and churned-up icy-mud, you don’t have the room to stop like you think you do.

Second, with the freeways shut down everyone’s on the access roads and those slow down to a crawl. In addition to the crawling traffic, you have patches of ice and churned-up icy-mud to contend with. Oh, and there were a lot of traffic lights out so those intersections were even slower to get through because of that. You don’t realize how nice traffic lights are until you go without them.

I’m forever grateful for the traction-control in the car I’m driving at the moment. I felt it kick in several times when I hit a slick spot or a piece of churned-up icy-mud. The spin only lasts for a few seconds before the system kicks in and you gain traction again. I did feel a bit of a slide in a couple of places but as my dad told me, if you feel your car slide let the car do the work and be gentle on the throttle and the wheel.

Another thing I could hear my dad tell me was get into someone’s treads, or what you see on the road when you follow a car on wet streets. You may not line up perfectly with them but they’ll give you some traction on slick roads. This is something I always do when it rains and trust me, it works.

Be gentle with your brakes. Treat them like a delicate piece of equipment and be gentle as you apply pressure. You slam on them or aren’t gentle with them, you’ll skid and slide. So be kind to your brakes and they’ll be good to you.

Most of all, take your time and if all possible, don’t go out unless you absolutely, positively have to. Or if you’re professional-crazoid like I am.