As the Glorious Heartland is once again covered with snow to a depth sufficient to fill Southerners with eternal horror for the first time in the season, your gentle (but angry) author feels a burning need to once again rail against the greatest peril of the season: other drivers. So we proudly present this classic rant for your enjoyment and edification. If it forces even one horrible driver off the road, well, then, it’s all worth it, isn’t it. I mean, think of the children!
These past weeks, we had our first major snowstorm of the year in the Land of Lincoln. Oh, not that there hadn’t been snow before, but this was the first snowstorm that truly deserved the “storm” part. Blizzard Warnings, Blowing Snow Advisories, and all that. Which meant, of course, it was time for Morons on Ice (well, snow).
There is really only one rule to driving on snow: Change is bad. Speeding up, slowing down, turning, changing lanes—these things cause trouble. Remember that, and you’re fine. Forget that, and, well, you’re a moron. This means of course that you can drive 50 mph perfectly safely, if the road is straight, and you’re not surrounded by morons who don’t know about things like braking distance on snow and ice. It also means that you can drive 15 mph and be a complete hazard on the road…apparently a very popular option.
There is a certain type of driving moron who thinks that by driving 10-20 mph slower, they have somehow “paid their dues” to the Snow Gods and are thereafter absolved of any need to modify their other stupid driving habits. So they’ll slam on the brakes, jam on the accelerator, weave through traffic, take turns abruptly, fail to signal and do all the other things that actually cause accidents on snow, ice, or for that matter perfectly clear pavements under a sunny sky.
And, on snow, this has the added benefit of jamming up traffic behind these fools, since often it’s not possible to pass at all, much less safely, due to snow and ice blocking parts of the road or requiring a much greater amount of time and distance to pass cars safely. As I was reminded of why I hate driving to work in the snow (hint: it’s not the snow, the road, or the wind), I compiled this handy catalog of Morons on Ice:
The Scatterbrained/Ungoverned Venturers (S/UVs) These drivers have chosen the “safest” vehicle for snow: a 4WD SUV of monstrous proportions. They then either drive that SUV in the exact same way they would on dry city pavements in Chicago—brake or gas pedal jammed to the floor at all times (these are the ungoverned venturers) or they creep along at 10 mph, despite having the vehicle best able to travel straight lines safely in snow (these are the scatterbrained). Since you can’t see around them, unless you too have decided to express your hatred of the Earth in your vehicle choice, you’re stuck wondering why they bothered to buy a huge SUV instead of the tiny rice burner they clearly think they’re driving.
The Oblivious These drive any sort of vehicle, though they seem to favor larger sedans. They drive fast or slow but either way have apparently decided that driving in snow removes any requirement to observe what other vehicles happen to be doing. I was nearly rear-ended by one of these while stopped, in the only open lane of a road, waiting for someone to turn left, at the end of a line of six cars! The moron never even stopped, but he was able to swerve left at the last moment, into oncoming traffic, and barrel past the line (including the left turning car, who had the presence of mind not to get in front of the charging idiot). You’d think that the driving conditions would indicate that you should pay more attention, not less, but you’d be wrong where these fools are concerned.
NASCAR Rejects Real NASCAR drivers are skilled professionals who are amazingly good at not crashing into other cars in the worst of conditions. But the rejects here drive like NASCAR drivers without the skill, training, or special tires. Every stop light is a starting line, and every intersection is a finishing line. Each start or stop requires full, pedal-to-the-metal acceleration or braking. Strangely this behavior doesn’t mix well with snow, slush, and ice. It does, however, lead to amusing results like fishtailing out of control and spiralling through an intersection into a ditch. Sadly, sometimes they wind up slamming into a car which is actually proceeding through the intersection in an orderly fashion.
The Post-Hoc Expert These are the morons who find themselves in an accident of any sort, clearly entirely their fault, and then make increasingly absurd arguments about why they weren’t really to blame and why they deserve a break from the usual consequences of being either stupid or unlucky on snow. Why everyone else should have to foot the bill for their driving habits is, of course, never addressed. They are the “whiny little bitches” of snow driving, and deserve the contempt reserved for such.
So there we have it, a brief catalog of the worst offenders, who turn a Winter Wonderland into the Demolition Derby, and bring to every snowy intersection the level of stress of a trip “outside the wire” in Iraq. Come to think of it, that’s probably a good solution: ship these people to Iraq and force them to serve convoy duty. After all, there’s not a lot of snow there, and in sandstorms nobody can see anything anyway. And most of their bad habits could be an asset in driving supply convoys, where mad dashes through crowded streets are a survival habit, not a muderous rampage.
But whatever you do, get these people off the streets of the Heartland during Winter!