That moment, when I saw the speeding car heading east start to turn, spin out of control and head directly toward me – directly, as in I could see the guy’s facial hair and “Oh, shit!” expression -- I became a winter driving expert.
Well, maybe not an expert, since I have a minivan with obnoxious sports and school stickers on it. But I did feel as if very narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a driver who was clearly driving way too fast for black ice conditions makes me a voice for the people who actually don’t drive like idiots during the wintertime in Chicago.
Inches of snow are in the forecast again, along with what the weather folks like to call bitterly cold temps. You’d think by now, with all of this season’s snow, ice and cold and accompanying road slickness – not to mention viral videos taken of speed-caused pileups on Midwest highways – that everyone would be a bit more careful.
Since some people don’t seem to have gotten the hint that perhaps a bit more caution is in order this time of year, here are some winter tips for rude, dangerous drivers:
• Stop tailgating. “Bumper to bumper traffic” doesn’t refer to the way you drive up on my bumper when we all need a bit more time and room to stop if, say, a pedestrian, cyclist or squirrel happens to dart in our path. (Admission: I regretfully have overused the phrase “Get off my ASS!” when dealing with tailgaters, since I heard my teenage son say it when he was student driving.)
• Consider slowing down. I know you have four-wheel drive and a truck or SUV and all, but that doesn’t mean that you should drive well over the speed limit on slippery roads. You still slide when you turn and you won’t stop right or quickly enough if need be. One case in point: the recent chain-reaction accident near Milwaukee: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NW0Nne0zrw
• Did you know they make ice scrapers and brushes? Might be a good idea to use one instead of driving with ice crusted all over your windshield and that half-foot of snow you left on top of your car that inevitably blows off.
• Even when it’s snowing, you should still pull over for ambulances and wait for funeral processions. I’ve found myself wishing bad karma recently on drivers who impatiently cut into a line of cars with funeral stickers and who stayed in the left lane despite an ambulance blaring its siren and beeping its horn.
• Can you make some attempt to not park like a jerk? I know we can’t see the yellow lines in the parking lot, but it doesn’t mean that you get to take three spaces or park your car straight in what is obviously a diagonal lot. Special distinction: anyone who moves aside parking spot holders in city spaces.
I have some suggestions for other people who mess with road safety. I’m talking to you, joggers who are wearing all black and running in the snowy and icy street when it’s pitch black. You scare the ever-living crap out of me when I come upon you and yeah, I resent it a bit. I’m also talking to you, municipalities and state-run operations who let hours and hours go by – even with long-predicted snowfall and icy conditions – without plowing or salting. I get that side streets aren’t a priority, but main streets should be. And that’s me you might hear swearing at you inside my car, “IpaytaxesIpaytaxesIpaytaxes.”
Considering that it’s only early January, there’s a lot left in winter driving season. There’s plenty of time to act like an inconsiderate, rude a-hole when it all thaws.