Welcome to winter. For many of us that means, cold, snow, ice and all the evilness that come with it. Growing up in the Toledo/Detroit area, winter weather was part of our lives. We played in the snow as children, prayed for snow days (although they were rare in my school district), and we learned to drive in the elements. It was just something you are expected to know how to do and how to handle. Yes accidents still happen, but you take steps to lessen that risk. I had always sort of assumed that was just how life was in areas that get winter weather. That was until I moved to Indianapolis.
For a city that gets at least one good snowfall a year, many drivers just panic when any of the white stuff appears. One to two inches of snow is nothing. Yes be careful. Yes put a little more distance between you and the car in front of you and look for slick spots. However, one to two inches of snow should not add another ten to twenty minutes to your commute. I seriously stuck at a light twice because a guy took that turn like we had a foot of snow and the road was covered in packed snow and ice. In reality, the pavement was dry. There was some snow on the ground, and light flurries had just started. This gentleman was overacting to say the least. I see this kind of thing all winter long.
I sometimes joke that Indiana doesn’t teach drivers ed in winter, but really I can’t figure out why Indianapolis drivers panic at something they should be used to. I get that some people are transplants, and yes maybe they never learned the basics. Still, there are too many native Hoosiers who just don’t get it. Really, it just takes a little common sense. Yes, like I said before it isn’t bad to slow down when it snows. The catch is you want to be sure that you are being reasonable with it.
Two to four inches of snow does not constitute driving 20 mph in a 40 mph zone unless that snow is coming down so hard that it is impacting your visibility. If the roads are snow covered and icy, use your best judgment on speed. When roads are slick, remember you need more stopping room. So yes, leaving four car lengths between you and the car ahead of you on dry roads is overkill. Your primary goal is to stay safe. However, overreacting doesn’t help matters. All it does is lock up traffic.
Oh yeah, and FYI four wheel drive does NOT make you invincible, nor does it give you the right to be the bully of the road way. Last winter we had maybe a 6 inch snowfall. It was also one of those systems that brought us some freezing rain. The roads were not pretty, but totally drivable. I was driving slower than usual and being reasonably cautious. I was nearly run off the road by an SUV. After he cut me off, we were stopped at a light. When it turned green I watched him fish tail and almost lose control of his vehicle. Once he was back under control, I gently accelerated and made it through the intersection just fine.
Just use your head, and the winter driving months will be much less stressful.
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