Opinion: A Game of Cars
Brace yourselves Inland Northwest, winter drivers are here.
Veterans of winter conditions know exactly the drivers I’m talking about.
Winter is the magical time of year where we up in the more northern latitudes get snow. Water vapor does this funny thing where it becomes snow, and then falls.
Yes. Snow is just like rain, only colder.
Despite this, many drivers start operating as if all of the rules have changed. I expect drivers to begin driving more slowly, but many drivers start to drive at dangerously slow speeds.
When the first snow falls, the game is not afoot. Nature is not out to kill you, presumably.
Yes, things happen. Water has a tendency to freeze and turn into ice, which is very slick. I’ve had my car spin around more than once my first winter, and I’ve been stuck in a snow drift with only a police officer and a shovel to save me. This has not led me to approach winter driving with extreme fear.
Driving at 25 mph instead of 45 will not make your journey any safer. In actuality you are making it more dangerous for those around you. When you drive at an abnormally slow speed you are disrupting the normal flow of traffic and presenting yourself as an obstacle.
Taking your time with a turn when the roads are covered in compacted snow is fine, but crawling to your destination isn’t. The big concerns in slick conditions are gaining and getting rid of speed.
When you drive too slowly it means that drivers going at a normal pace now have to adapt. This means going around you, or possibly slowing down. Slowing down can be very dangerous when roads are slick and you have to lose speed quickly.
Understanding how to approach every unique condition is the proper way. If it’s snowing but the roads are bare and devoid of ice, you should drive like such is the case. If the roads are covered in snow, slush, and ice, you should drive slower and keep vigilant. Slower does not mean a number you can count with your fingers on a main thoroughfare.
Being an unsafe driver goes beyond how you drive. When winter is looming it’s time to prepare. Get your winter tires on and have a tool for cleaning your car up well before snow starts to fall. As a driver you have responsibilities and these are those. It’s no different than having a spare tire available and the tools to affix it, or jumper cables.
Cars are no different than helicopters, planes, boats, or other vehicles. Responsibility is a part of being a driver. Every person should know how to put in oil, change a tire, and jump a car battery. I see no reason for people not to be prepared for driving in winter conditions.
When I drive on a road by myself, I feel free and safe. When you add other people to the equation is when things start to get hairy. Driving safe is going with the flow. Everyone has their first winter and learning is a tricky process, but we all know people who have done it before or have someone to ask for advice. When conditions get slick, find a place to practice. It will make you a better driver, and keep you safe.
While we’re all trudging through winter remember to drive safely, and be courteous!
Opinions expressed in editorial and opinion articles are the views of individual NIC students. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Sentinel, North Idaho College, or any other organizations or groups there-in. North Idaho College is not responsible for the accuracy of statements or opinions shared.
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