We live in a winter climate, despite the best efforts of politician-turned-weather-messiah Honest Al Gore to convince us otherwise.


To be honest, we want Big Al to be right with his hockey stick-handling of weather issues, but even mild winters are still winter where we live and this one has been an unpleasant reminder of many of our childhood winters in our town.





The sad part is people seem to forget how to drive in winter and our city’s anemic snow-clearing program means we will be forced to become better drivers on roads that would scare the living hell out of Polar Bear from Ice Road Truckers.


Consequently we have to become better drivers or use the public transit system during winter months because the winter roads are no place for the gutless and clueless.


One myth surfaces every year during winter months: four-wheel drive pickup and sport utility drivers are better drivers than us mere mortals, so they can fly along icy roads with the same level of vehicle control they would enjoy in the heat of summer.




Ladies and gentlemen, you are not better drivers simply because you have four drive wheels under the careless control of your right foot. You may wonder why it takes awhile for people to stop when you get lucky after you finally lose control and only hit the ditch instead of other people.


Truth is we have watched you drive like complete idiots with no regard for other drivers’ safety prior to your inevitable date with the ditch. We will stop if your stupidity has resulted in a rollover or collision with unforgiving objects like trees.



We will not stop if you are upright and pointlessly spinning all four wheels to get out of the snow bank in which your truck is now buried up to the door handles because of your incredibly bad driving.


The first person you can expect to stop is the first person who has not actually witnessed you driving like a complete moron prior to your inevitable loss of control. The rest of us will consider this a funny moment of poetic justice and smile about your impromptu driving lesson.




The other side of the coin is drivers who are terrified when they drive on snowy roads. This issue is more complicated in our town because there is no real game plan to deal with exceptionally snowy winters like this one.



There are far more excuses than snow plows on our streets and the result are roads where timid drivers should re-think their transportation game plan until spring.


The frightened drivers constitute as big a threat to safety as the cocky drivers because they will impede traffic flow to the point where other drivers get frustrated and take chances to get by the painfully slow-moving road block in front of them.


The winter road may allow for 60% of the speed limit and, if the timid driver is around 20-30% of the speed limit, something’s gotta give-and it will be the patience of the driver behind them.


We all need to be more patient under less-than-ideal driving conditions, but an ultra-slow driver is simply a hazard on the road and should park their vehicle for the winter season.




There you have it; two radically different driver types who should do a Yogi Bear and hibernate for the winter because they are neither smarter nor funnier than the cartoon legend.


Jim Sutherland

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