I know, I know. 75% of sconnies have to re-learn their winter driving skills every year. This first “snow event” (as the weather folks call them) of the year has brought out all the idiots. In the course of a half-hour of running errands, I saw three cars in the ditch, witnessed two fender-benders, and endured the idiocy of far too many people exhibiting ZERO winter driving skill.
I take winter driving seriously; my giant, gas-sucking, all-wheel-drive, foreign-made SUV is equipped with four Dunlop GrandTrek Ice and Snow tires (tip: every bit as good as, and less expensive than the Bridgestone Blizzak, which is supposedly the gold standard) and I consider myself a safe and accomplished winter driver.
Half of the battle, perhaps more, is staying out of the way of the dweebs and dolts who can’t drive on snow.
There are the ones who think the condition of the road surface has no effect on their vehicle, and they drive as though it was sunny and warm and the laws of physics have been suspended. There are the ones (I’ve noticed a lot of them own Jeep Grand Cherokees) who think their four-wheel or all-wheel drive will allow them to traverse slippery roads with impunity. These are the ones who pass you going way too fast, and a few moments later you see them in the ditch. And there are the ones who drive incredibly slow, hunched over the wheel, fearing for their life and limb, unknowingly causing just as many wrecks as the dweebs who drive too fast.
Entirely too many people were driving in the snow with their headlights off. They’ve never heard about the aviation and navigation concept of “see and be seen”. One of the unlighted vehicles I encountered was a model similar to mine, so I know the operator had either deliberately shut off the headlights, or is completely unfamiliar with the “automatic” feature on the headlight switch, which is essentially a “set it and forget it” position which keeps the headlights on any time you’re driving, and shuts them off after a short delay when you put the transmission in “Park” and turn off the engine.
I have high expectations of winter drivers in Wisconsin, and every year my expectations are lowered another notch. My daughter, who now navigates the thoroughfares of the NYC metro five days a week, talks about how crappy New York drivers are in snow, and her venerable Buick sedan has already been rear-ended in the snow once this winter by an east-coaster following her way too closely.
Come to think of it, and after my experiences today, I’m going to revise my estimate and say three-quarters of the battle is staying out of the way of the dweebs and dolts who have no business driving on snow.
Be careful out there.