Braking Becomes Trickier In Snowy Conditions

SPOKANE – There’s so much snow piling up on the roads, getting around is a challenge for even the most experienced drivers.

A “Condition Red” snow emergency has been issued throughout the city of Spokane. That means plows will be out until all 967 miles of roads in the city are plowed.

There have been a lot of accidents, and there seems to be a common theme. Even though crews are desperately trying to keep the roads clear, there’s a lot of compact ice that can make stopping very difficult.

An two-wheel-drive SUV was tested to see how long it took for us to stop at three different speeds.

In an empty, snowpacked parking lot, the vehicle was started at 20 miles an hour. Going at that speed, the car stopped at 50 feet, after the brakes were hit even with some orange cones.

At 25 miles an hour, it took 60 feet before the SUV came to a complete stop, and going just 30 miles an hour, the car came to a rest 80 feet later.

While that was an unscientific test, it shows why driving slowly in these conditions is important, because it does take more time to stop.

Troopers have been responding to wrecks throughout the evening, and they say speed is a problem.

“Normally, I tell people to leave one car length for every 10 miles an hour,” says Trooper Chris Stone of the Washington State Patrol. “So if you’re doing 60 miles an hour, you should have six car lengths. Days like this, when it’s slick out, I would definitely use a lot more distance than that.”

The stopping distance would’ve probably been farther out had the SUV been driving on compact ice instead of compact snow. But the stopping distance will differ depending on the type of vehicle and type of tires one has.