Help me get from South Bend, IN to Indianapolis, IN
February 18, 2014 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I am traveling to Indiana from California for work. I need to get from South Bend to Indianapolis. I was originally planning to just rent a car, but I've never driven on snowy roads and my family is convinced I'm going to kill myself. Can you help me travel safely?

I have never driven in snow. In fact, I have only even seen snow twice in my life. My family is convinced that even if it's not actively snowing, driving in slush will be incredibly dangerous for me. My rental car is currently planned to be a regular sedan, but I could potentially upgrade to an SUV or something with snow tires. Do you locals think it's actually slippery, dangerous conditions?

If it seems at all dubious, I am looking for a car and driver service from South Bend to Indy. I am only finding airport services or places that will require me to call and request a quote. I just want to get a sense of how much it would cost before making a decision either way. Do you have a service you have used and liked? I am not allowed to rent a limo, but if a sedan and driver is only a bit more than my rental car, I don't think anyone will object.

Thank you for any advice!
posted by chatongriffes to Travel & Transportation around Indianapolis, IN (16 answers total)
I am not a local, but I am nearby in Michigan. The good thing about this part of the country is that people know how to handle the snow. So I can almost guarantee that unless you're going to be driving on little back roads, the road will be well-plowed and salted, so you won't be driving on snow or slush at all. Unless the weather forecast for the actual day you're traveling is calling for large amounts of snow or if there are ice warnings, I wouldn't worry at all.
posted by tau_ceti at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2014

Driving in inclement weather isn't that tricky.

Besides, the roads are cleared during snow storms and immediately after - they are only snowy when it's actually snowing, which isn't that frequent.

Unless you are travelling during a snow storm, you will be fine.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2014

Current road conditions coupled with a pretty nice weather report makes me think this is a lot of worrying about nothing.

If there is slush on the ground at all, drive a bit more slowly and don't take turns so quickly or sharply.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2014

You're in fighting Irish territory. Look for shuttles that students use to go back and forth from Indy.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2014

I lived in South Bend for three years and drove from there to Indy I don't know how many times. You'll basically be taking US-31 the whole. damn. way. The bad news is that you'll be hitting almost every stoplight between the Bend and Indy, plus going through/around Kokomo, which is a real hole.

The good news is that most of the way it's a major, four-lane, semi-limited access divided highway with very aggressive snow removal and ice treatment. Conditions are not likely to be even mildly dangerous unless it is actively precipitating, and even then you should be fine if you just take it easy (and be careful on bridges). If it's been even an hour or two since the most recent snow/ice, the roads should be clear.

The better news is that unless there's been a major storm, the snow should stop around Kokomo. South Bend, and northern Indiana in general, gets quite a bit of lake effect snow. As in, at least an inch a week, but sometimes a few inches--or more--in a single day, even when there's no actual storms. But that tapers off pretty rapidly as you move south, and by the time you get to Indy the phenomenon is gone entirely. All you've got left are honest-to-goodness snow storms, and those aren't nearly as common.

You'll be fine.
posted by valkyryn at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and there are more than a few bus services available at the South Bend airport which will get you to Indy. Look into Greyhound and Hoosier Ride.
posted by valkyryn at 12:25 PM on February 18, 2014

Thanks so much, everyone! I felt fine about driving until my family started worrying. I think I'll probably be ok just driving my rental car.

I appreciate such quick feedback!
posted by chatongriffes at 12:31 PM on February 18, 2014

P.S. I showed my mom the road conditions and even she consented that I probably would manage to not die.
posted by chatongriffes at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

You'll be fine. Get something with front wheel drive.

SUV is just big and unless its 4-wheel drive, it's more of a hinderance than a help.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another South Bender here (waves at valkyrn) I can do the drive to Indy from here no worries in winter and I was born and raised in Australia and have terrible snow driving skills. It's a major road so is kept clear and salted and all the stop lights mean you don't get the super scary speeds, like you do on toll roads (I can't do US tollroads in winter). Also we a due a day of warmish weather so if you are coming this week your major concern might be flooding.
posted by wwax at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2014

!. Keep an eye on the weather: if it turns bad or snows again, switch to the bus.
2. If the temperature is freezing or below, "wet" spots on the road might actually be black ice --- slick, no matter if you're driving AWD or 4WD.
3. Tell your mom thanks for still worrying about you, and take her a nice souvenier of your trip.
posted by easily confused at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2014

Look out for potholes - they'll be a lot bigger than you're used to. And they will take out your tire if you hit them wrong.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Three hours relaxing on the Hoosier Ride bus will cost you less money, stress, and risk.

I've done both, and I strongly prefer the bus.
posted by Kakkerlak at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2014

I think it's safe to assume that any rental car you get there will have all-season or snow tires.
posted by mareli at 7:07 PM on February 18, 2014

If you do decide to drive, here's my (former) Edmontonian driving advice for snowy conditions:

#1 piece of advice is to SLOW DOWN in bad weather, this cannot be emphasized enough. Ignore what other drivers on the road are doing, stick in the right lane and let them pass you. If there are white out conditions, that guy speeding past in a pickup/suv will probably end up in a ditch.

Be sure to check the tires on your rental before you leave and if the tread is low ask for a different car.

If you can, try to make sure your wiper fluid reservoir is full of -35C rated fluid (or lower!), and make sure you have an extra bottle in the trunk.

If you get stranded, do not leave your car. Just leave the blinkers on and someone will find you.
posted by Poldo at 8:01 PM on February 18, 2014

Thanks so much, everyone! I just settled safely into my Indy hotel room. The only part of the drive that was tricky at all was all the fog and as a Bay Area native, I know exactly what to do with that.

I appreciated all the "how to drive safely" tips! Your potholes really are nasty!
posted by chatongriffes at 2:10 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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