Home » Watch Some Seattle Residents Fail At Driving On Ice From The Comfort Of Your Home

Watch Some Seattle Residents Fail At Driving On Ice From The Comfort Of Your Home

Nailed It

While a large winter storm ravages most of the country, a smaller system has visited the Pacific Northwest and the Washington Department of Transportation would like you to stay home until it passes. What a great idea! Unless you’re a Finnish rally champion with proper tires, driving your crossover on an icy hill isn’t going to go great.

My favorite kind of performance driving is driving on the snow. Here’s some video of me doing that with some folks at Consumer Reports:

All of these cars had snow tires (well, Raph’s bug had some kind of all-terrain truck tire) and we were in a fairly controlled environment. Here’s what it looks like when you’re not in a controlled environment:

The Mazda CX-7 driver almost pulls it off and gets a nice bit of countersteer there at the end. Unfortunately, right before the sweet drift they collided with a poor Toyota.

If you’re in the right environment with the right vehicle OR you’re being a dummy in a beater car in a place where you can’t hurt anyone then go nuts. If you’re in Seattle and you’ve got well-worn all seasons then maybe stay home and read this website? Below are some highlights from Seattle drivers last year:

UPDATE: Here are some more Seattle videos:



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Top image: Twitter via @seizuresalad314

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43 Responses

  1. I live near Seattle. I was outside and some kid came ice skating by on the sidewalk. It was not safe to go anywhere and my quiet side street had as much or more traffic than usual. People are idiots but my area is flat and they were all driving relatively slowly. I have a decent amount of snow experience (admittedly not much ice rink driving experience) and there is no way I would have gone anywhere.

    Went for a lap around the block to feel out the ice and GEEZ. Could have been worse I guess.

  2. I live in Seattle and had to walk to work in metal cleats. It’s absolute car suicide to drive right now. Unless you’re running actual winter race gear, the north facing hills are impassable.

  3. I tell you what, Icey roads with hills, would make a great level in any racing sim. “I”M IN 1ST!!!!” Three seconds later your last and all your tires are popped for going over curbs.

    1. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the basic gameplay loop for the “My Summer Car” sequel, “My Winter Car.”

      1. Spend hours tuning engine and installing racing parts.
      2. Drive on icy forest road to buy milk and beer at Teimo’s store.
      3. Lose traction immediately, spin out, crash, die.

      So, you know, just the original game but with snow.

  4. For most of my life I believed that MD drivers were the worst, but the Washingtonian’s really upped their shit driving during the pandemic. God forbid they encounter a traffic circle or be expected to maintain a lane, constant speed, or obey traffic signals. Adding the weather just turns the dial up to 11.

  5. Anyone here playing Forza Horizon 5? For the current holiday “season” the developer turned the stadium into an ice rink to slide around in a big spinny-tire circle? That’s what the roads and basically every flat outdoor surface in Western Washington is like right now (I live in Tacoma.) Anyone trying to head out today lacks self preservation instincts and common sense.

  6. Living in an area that knows how to treat roads is great

    I once had a discussion, ok they yelled and I didn’t care, about Lake effect snow (upstate NY) vs what I drove in.

    They were lambasting me about getting 6 inches of snow while they would 2 – 3 feet and not knowing how to drive in winter.

    My response “Ever drive with quarter to half inch of ice on every surface in a Camaro? That is all about control.” They fumed in the corner while I continued to not care.

    1. Yeah. I live in a part of Ontario that gets pretty much every kind of miserable winter weather there is — sleet, freezing rain, and 20-inch snowfalls. I’d much rather drive through that 20-inch snowfall than a thin coat of ice on a city street. Even heavy-duty snow tires and AWD — which I have on my Escape — won’t help me much there, especially on a hill. Sometimes you just stay home.

  7. I literally am in Seattle visiting family trapped in a hotel room. This ice is no joke… I escaped the MN blizzard just to be stuck in ice rinks on steep hills.

    1. They get through eventually; the moderators are on top of it. Also, I believe they’ve said that the shift to a completely different commenting platform (which should happen sometime in January) will allow them to use more sophisticated filtering.

      It’s annoying, but unless you’ve said something truly awful it should only be a brief delay.

      1. I don’t mind spam filters – I’m in favor of them after Debbie broke my heart – but if you want to give a REAL perk to members, maybe whitelist us on the spam filter (until we prove ourselves unworthy, anyhow). Being a bit long-winded and with a penchant to toss in a link now and again, I get flagged quite often.

        Is it me, or something I said?

  8. I’ve got 4WD and a set of Blizzaks and if the road was literally a sheet of ice I would fucking stay home.

    The coefficient of friction for rubber on dry asphalt is 0.72. Get that asphalt wet and it drops a bit to 0.53. Freeze that water, and it’s 0.15. That means that all four wheels put together have less traction than one wheel does in good conditions, and only a little better than one wheel on wet pavement.

    Yeah that’s a simplification and there are other factors that can matter, but the general point remains: trying to drive on ice is a bad idea.

    1. Here in TEXAS! we have a ton (hell, everybody but me) of pickup truck owners who don’t grasp what you’re saying about tire grip being important. They know that you can go anywhere, anytime with 4WD. And they can GO – they just can’t stop or turn….

      1. My favorite is watching 2WD trucks try to get around in the winter. That’s basically the worst kind of vehicle you can have in a snowy situation.

      2. Just saw it in one of these videos with that Lexus GX. I’m sure the guy thought his 4WD vehicle known for its offroad chops could handle the conditions. Maybe if he had studded snow tires, but not with the plain old all-seasons they come with.

  9. Portland is also a peak spot for car pinball. The PNW weather has a lot of warm days and cold nights ideal for forming glare ice. The I-5 corridor is the worst because they only get serious snow and ice a few days a year so lots of people don’t have proper winter tires. East of the Cascades is colder so we get more snow, have more snow tire adoption and fewer, although the recent weather created several pile ups in Bend. Fortunately I stayed clear, although a couple spots gave my ABS a workout despite studless tires.

  10. Seattle resident here. We had a lot of advance warning of this ice storm, so the people who were on the road in these videos don’t have any excuses. I live on a moderately hilly street, and woke up to someone sliding down my street and nearly taking out my car. Their car stopped sliding about a foot from my front bumper. I was able to move my car out of the way, and he then slid all the way down the street, eventually over curbs and onto the sidewalk before spilling out onto the cross street at the bottom of the hill.

    Another approaching driver saw all of this happening, and then decided to give it a try himself (WHY?!). He also failed, and nearly wiped down the side of my neighbor’s car. I had to help him as well. Both of these bozos said they were returning from dropping their spouses off at work. I’m not sure if that makes them good spouses for helping their wives get to work, or bad spouses for being so foolish to have even tried in the first place.

    A third guy approached from the top of the hill in a pickup, aided by our local crazy “plandemic” neighbor who was on foot with a huge pot of hot water. The crazy neighbor promptly slipped on the ice and fell hard. The truck slid down the hill doing pirouettes.

    I was born and raised in Michigan and absolutely love driving in severe winter conditions. The people who attempted to drive in Seattle yesterday are utter fools.

  11. A friend of mine who lives there posted a clip on FB of several cars going down a fun-looking grade (mostly sideways), and she said they had ALL been parked and had no one inside them. Just… broke loose and headed downhill.

  12. Ice on flat ground: Fine

    Ice on any sort of grade: BAD NEWS! I don’t care if you have the ultimate ice rig, every other idiot on the road doesn’t and they’ll use you like a crash pad.

  13. I grew up in Portland, where this sort of thing is relatively normal, and spent a lot of time driving around Mt. Hood and Eastern Washington in the winter. I learned one thing: you don’t go out driving in this, especially on hills, as chains / studs / snow tires are completely useless on half an inch of ice, especially given the changes in elevation around the Seattle Metropolitan area.

    Maybe if you had spiked tires a la Scandinavian oval track snow racing, you might be able to make headway with a modicum of control, but that doesn’t protect you from all the assholes in 4WD SUVs who don’t understand physics.

    Also, you aren’t going to see salting of roads around the PNW – it kills the salmon during their freshwater phase.

    1. Chains worked great on the soft ice later in the day and probably would have done fine earlier in the day but first I had to chip all the ice off of the carsicle so that I could open the door and get the chains.

  14. Up here in Edmonton it was -34c ish- the V50 AWD was in the shop and I had to drive the 850 fwd with OLD snow tires- it felt like this but with less contact. Have driven out on the west coast in this stuff with 4 studded snows, my advice, stay home

  15. As a Midwesterner, I relish watching people who don’t drive in snow and ice try to drive in the aforementioned conditions. Usually the response is:
    “Yeah, well, we don’t usually get this so back off.”
    No. I won’t.
    Like I said, I live in the Midwest; you probably live somewhere much nicer. There are no other joys during the Midwest winter other than watching the ill-suited get a taste of our lives. From November to March, I live for the schadenfreude.

  16. Is Seattle equipped to fix this, or will it just have to melt? Over here in New England we would probably have pre-salted the roads (unless it was just gonna get rained off) and then would be out during and after the storm with a salt/sand mixture to keep the roads passable. Salt is hell on cars, but it does melt ice. Does Seattle just not do that?

    1. No we aren’t equipped to “fix this”, though it is well on its way to being resolved. As mentioned snow isn’t very frequent in the Seattle area, it usually doesn’t amount to much and usually melts pretty quickly. They do use the cow piss to prevent icy roads when that works but it doesn’t in a case like thise where we had 20 degree temps, some places with ~1/2″ of snow, followed by fairly heavy rains at 30-32 degrees. Yesterday morning my cars were covered with ~3/16″ of ice, because for some strange reason we did not get any snow immediately proceeding the rain. The gaps between the door and body or hood and body were completely covered over. About 3p after a couple of hours of rain at 34 degrees I was able to break into our SUV, start it and get it defrosted. It took chains to get out of our driveway and neigborhood. Once I made it to the main roads it wasn’t too bad. The vehicles that I didn’t chip out yesterday still have a nice coating of ice on them as does my driveway.

    2. They don’t really salt at all, but it is supposed to go up to 50 degrees today, so it will just melt before the end of the day. I drove to the airport this morning and the major highways were fine, but the side roads were bad, it was like a sheet of ice.

    3. Growing up just north of Seattle, my experience was they either do nothing for a couple days and let it go away on it’s own, or, if they finally make it out of the cascades, send plows around to put sand on the roads if it looks like it’ll stick around for a while.

      It meant that when I brought my old Buick to a state that salts the roads, I had rust holes throught the quarter panels by the next year where there had never been any rust before.

    4. Snow, and especially ice, is pretty rare outside of the mountains in the Pacific Northwest, so it often doesn’t make sense financially for municipalities to invest in a bunch of plow trucks and stockpiles of salt that might be used just once a year. Some areas treat the roads with a stinky “brine” solution or throwing sand and gravel, but it’s nowhere near as effective as what you’d find back east.

      My first winter in Seattle, there was a small amount of snow in the forecast, and I prepared to go to work as usual because I grew up in an area where a little snow is nothing but an annoyance. Turning on the news, you’d think we were being hit by an intense blizzard. I still remember the streets department guy being interviewed. He said: “Everyone please be patient. Our teams are working hard, and both of our plows are out clearing the streets.” Both? The small town where I grew up had a fleet of snow removal vehicles ten times that size! But after that, it was years before I saw snow in the city again, so I understand why they don’t want to invest in something that’s used so rarely.

      The good news is that the forecast shows temperatures in the 50s in Seattle this weekend, so with any luck, this will all melt by lunchtime tomorrow.

  17. You forgot to mention the really steep streets in parts of Seattle and the suburbs. I live on top of a plateau at about 500ft elevation and the nearest road down is a 10% grade for about a mile. I’m not foolish enough to go outside but I am certain there’s carnage (bad pun) up and down that stretch of road.

    I learned to drive in Michigan, so I know a few things about driving in snow, and my coworkers love to harass me when I stay home on days like this – and I always tell them that I can handle myself in snow & ice… it’s all you other people who don’t have the experience or a vehicle set up to handle this weather that I am avoiding.

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