Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oh snow!

Well we almost got through all of 2012 with no snow, but we've since received a few inches on Monday, Wednesday and now Saturday. No big deal. It was easy to shovel, and didn't really make the roads bad. But you can always tell when it's been a while since the last snow because that's the point you see a large chunk of drivers doing the wrong things or just plain being irresponsible. The most common problem you will see if people driving around without their headlights on. When it's not snowing anymore it's simply stupid because you are putting yourself in danger by being less visible to others. But when it is still snowing, not only does this make it more dangerous due to the reduced visibility, but it is also illegal! I tend to flash my lights at these people in hopes that they will get the hint. But I am almost always met with oblivious looks or a confused stare. Next there are those that don't clean the snow off the roof of their car, or only clean the windows. Again, not only is it dangerous to not clean off the roof, but it is illegal! If it is a dry snow, it will blow off the roof in a fine mist as you drive, which reduces the visibility from those behind. If it is a snow with an ice layer on top, there is a larger danger. In these conditions, and at the right speeds, a chunk can suddenly fly off the roof and impact those behind. This can cause damage or an accident. But what if it's a snow with a moist layer at the bottom? Well, stop for a stop sign or stop light fast enough and that snow slides right off the roof to cover your windscreen an leave you driving blind. So not only are you breaking the law if you don't clear your roof off, but you are a danger to yourself and others. But today I saw the worst example ever. This was a white car with no headlights on, and the only thing cleared was the windscreen (and even that was only cleared by the windscreen wipers)! I don't know how they managed it, but the grille, hood, roof, trunk, back windows, and even all the side windows were all covered with snow! How they were able to get in and close the drivers door without disturbing the snow covering it, I will never know. But seriously, who can get in that car, use the wipers to clear the windscreen, and presumably be aware of the obvious fact that they are surrounded by snow and only have visibility in one direction and still think it is a good idea to drive under those conditions? This person couldn't even see out of the driver's side window for crying out loud, let alone any of the mirrors. I award that driver the award of the pinnacle of ignorant Winter driving stupidity!

There are also those that don't know how to drive in the snow. There are those that freak out when the conditions really aren't that bad for starters. If you are from down south, I'll give you a pass. But when you live through the same Winter just about every year, you have no excuse. Then there are those that follow too closely. It's not a good idea when it's dry, but when traction and stopping distances may be compromised, you're just asking for a collision. I saw one driver the other day that was from the Carolinas, so I'll give him a little bit of a pass. But every time he tried to change lanes he would start to drive on the little bit of slush that collects on the line dividing the lanes. What would he do each and every time? Why, jerk his wheel back into the lane he was in of course... Not a good idea. On that day it wasn't really that bad out, and he could have easily completed his lane change had he continued on his originally plotted course. But had conditions actually been slippery, such an abrupt action would have sent him into a spin. Low traction situations call for careful maneuvers all around. Don't mash on the gas. Don't jerk the wheel. Don't stab the brakes. If you do, you are asking for trouble. You need to respect the conditions and drive in a careful and considered manner.

Lets not forget some non-motoring offenders though. Let's start with those clearing snow... One is people who shovel the snow from in front of their house, and rather than throw it in their front yard instead throw it into the street. This is illegal in some paces, but it is inconsiderate and a hazard everywhere. If the plow hasn't come yet, it might not be too big of a deal, except for the fact that more snow in the road equals more snow pushed by the plow to block driveways. If the plow has come but is coming back, your snow will likely end up under cars parked along the road. But if the road has been plowed you are creating an obstacle in the road. Remember the plow came to clear the snow so people can pass. You shoveling snow into the street reintroduces potentially slippery snow. Then there are those with their own plows. I agree that it is frustrating when the plow pushes the snow and it collects across your driveway, but that does not give you a pass to push that snow (and sometimes all the snow in your driveway) out into the street. This creates a much bigger and dangerous obstacle than the shoveler ever could.

Finally, there are the store crowds. If there is a blizzard coming, I can understand people stocking up. But when they are calling on 2-4 inches? I kid you not, but the market was a mad house the day before each of our three snows this week. Each time the were calling for two to four inches. Yet people panicked and ran to stock up at the slightest chance of snow. It was only 2-4 inches. No one was going to be snowed in and cut off from the rest of the world. The next confusing point was so many panic sessions in such a short period. Surely all those people that panicked and went to get emergency reserves of Sunday didn't use up all their bread and milk by Tuesday, and again by Friday. Well, if they are going through that much milk, at least they should have strong bones! It's just a little snow. Take it easy and enjoy it while you can. Because if it continues at this rate all Winter long, we'll all be sick of the fluffy white stuff for some time I think.


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