lived in the northeast my entire life, I’ve learned a thing or
two about driving in bad weather… in the ice... in the snow. Of
course, this year flipped things around a bit, with snow falling
in ridiculous amounts and temperatures plummeting to ridiculous
lows, and the snow not necessarily falling where it was expected
to fall and thermometers heading to numbers seldom read and never
as often in previous years. But one thing remains the same…
New Englanders don’t know how to drive in bad weather.
settle down, it’s not personal. In fact, most people don’t know
how to drive in bad weather. It’s not exclusive to the New England
states. It includes New York. It includes Pennsylvania. New Jersey…
Maryland… Delaware… and then start heading west. I can virtually
guarantee you the story is the same just about any place you care
comes with the understanding, of course, that the larger the state
the more open land becomes involved, and the chances of actually
hitting something other than a cow or sliding into a drainage
ditch go down accordingly. It’s one of those size of the state
to obstacle in the way inversely proportional ratio kind of things.
also should not be confused with actually knowing how to drive
in bad weather. If you want to seem high comedy, drop an inch
of snow on the ground in Texas or Florida and watch the hilarity
that follows. They don’t know how to do anything in the ice.
trick is, in many of these places… say, again, Florida… drivers
also don’t pretend that they know how to operate their vehicles
when snow is falling.
far as I can tell, the primary problem is a complete lack of understanding
for the rules of driving in bad weather. People don’t respect
the rules. People don’t take responsibility for following the
rules. The rules are simple enough, and there are only four.
number one -- Don’t touch the brake pedal.
number two -- No, really, don’t touch the brake
number three -- Keep moving at a consistent speed.
number four -- DON’T TOUCH THE BRAKE PEDAL.
foundation of this lack of understanding problem appears to be
a sense of entitlement. In short, a feeling of: “Oh look, I have
a license from the great state of (insert name of a New England
state here), and therefore I intuitively know how to drive in
a license from a New England state does not automatically bless
you with the understanding of whether to turn into the slide or
against the slide when you find yourself in one.
a license from a New England state does not prevent you from turning
your car into an out-of-control sled if you fail to understand
what I actually mean by rule number one, rule number two or rule
a license from a New England state does not allow you or your
vehicle to defy the laws of physics and nature as you think about
rule number three and slow down while approaching a hill. (Usually
with cars behind you.)
being a New Englander doesn’t bring with it an ability to handle
snow without a thought.
it brings with it stories of people such as those that trash their
trucks in an attempt to become a millionaire. (Wish I was kidding.
Here’s one story I know of…)
I was working with this kid that had decided he was going quit
his job, since the winter was on the way and he had just bought
a new truck. Yup, the money was literally going to be overflowing
from his checking account once he got the plow blade attached
and the flakes began falling. He had his resignation all but signed.
for him, and his truck, until the snow actually fell and the deposits
were being made at the bank, he didn’t have much money after purchasing
it and decided that attaching a plow blade was something he could
do on his own. And, to be fair, I was told that he did successfully
attach one to his truck. What he didn’t do was look into things
like the suspension and transmission and… well… you may see the
results coming. He destroyed his brand new truck. Heck,
he did more than that. Since his truck wasn’t designed for plowing,
and he had elected to attached one of the largest blades available
(you know, because of all the plowing jobs he was going to get
that would surely include massive parking lots and businesses),
he managed to void his warranty.
course, much of that didn’t matter. Since so many other people
had been plowing for years and had established their contacts
and contracts, he wasn’t finding many in need of his services.
Businesses had long since made arrangements for their needs. He
was effectively left only with the option of running ads and hoping
for his phone to ring. And oh yeah… in one of those amazing twists
for this story, it turned out that was a mild winter. Which meant
once he had finished repairing everything, there wasn’t that much
plowing to do anyway. The only thing piling up was his bills.
please… understand I am not saying anything negative about people
that have snow plows on their trucks. Many of these people have
been battling against nature for years, clearing streets and driveways
for us so that we may travel more safely. They often are out there
for hours, and are called upon around the clock. And they have
certainly learned over time, with mistakes providing bills for
maintenance and repairs as well as experience.
I’m being critical of is the people that don’t understand the
responsibility involved in addressing bad weather, and don’t take
these things seriously. Let’s move off of people plowing the snow
and turn to Facebook for a moment.
some of the storms this winter, especially in Connecticut and
Rhode Island, I saw tons of pictures on Facebook. People were
posting status updates, and several of them were tweeting away
on Twitter as well. There were all sorts of warnings about being
slow and careful. There were alerts and notices about accidents
and closures and detours.
if you followed the postings, you might have begun to notice something
remarkable. It sure as heck seemed like a huge chunk of them were
being completed while the person was on the road. Yup… they were
in a storm and on roads that were so dangerous that they felt
the need to warn everyone about it… and were using a cell phone
to take pictures, send text messages, and log on to post things
all over the internet. And once they made multiple posts, combining
the stories created a timeline… some made it clear that they were
likely alone in their car… so they were driving the vehicle. One
that I saw actually caught the speedometer on the dashboard registering
between 20 and 25… so yeah, I feel comfortable saying they were
moving when they snapped the shot.
you really want to help me out, just keep your car moving along
and stop worrying about getting that picture that shows how horrible
the driving conditions are. And please, understand why I’m hoping
you stay away from your brakes.
~ ~ ~
should like to point out, that this article should not be viewed
in any way as instructional or informative. I absolutely do
not mean that you shouldn’t use the brake pedal in your car.
I did not tell to you turn the wheel into or away from the direction
of your sliding vehicle. And there is no way that my suggestion
when approaching a hill is to pin the accelerator pedal to the
just put your cell phone away, stop worrying about telling us
how horrible the conditions are outside at the exact same moment
you are driving in those horrible conditions, and pay attention.