January 7, 2010

On My Soapbox: Driving in Snow... Rant!

I am not perfect. Sometimes I foolishly try to BE perfect. But I know I am not. Despite that, I find myself in possession of, in my opinion, a higher and stronger than the average human level of common sense. Also, I must confess, I did grow up driving in an area that has a pretty good average of snowfall in the winter.

Since moving to mid-Ohio, I have increasingly become appalled at the lack of common sense when it comes to snow, and vehicles driving IN the snow. So, after a 45-minute drive home… a drive that typically takes me 15 minutes… in very messy snow, I feel the need to share some feelings and observations.

Please bear with me. I promise to never revisit this topic again. Well, I’ll try very hard not to.

Let’s first talk about the snow plows. Snow plows have two jobs:

  1. To scrape the snow, slush, sludge and other wet, cold, icy crap off the road.
  2. To pour salt, or whatever snow-melting chemical you have, onto the road to help loosen the snow, slush, sludge and other wet, cold, icy crap on the road.
Let me describe EVERY city snow plow I have ever seen, and driven behind.

  1. Plows are not down on the road, scraping the snow, slush, sludge and other wet, cold, icy crap. No, really. I kid you not. Instead, they are high up and very well OFF the road. The plow is driving on the same road I’m on, isn’t it? I am sitting here struggling to keep my car in the lane amidst the snow, slush, sludge and other wet, cold, icy crap that is covering the road… at least two inches. Yes… it is on the same road. Let me reiterate… the plow is not down.
  2. The spinning salt spreader in the back of the truck is still. Nothing is pouring out of the salt reservoir container on the back of the truck. Is it empty? No. Hmmmm. One must wonder why there is nothing coming out to help aid in the non-freezing of the unplowed snow, slush, sludge and other wet, cold, icy crap that remains on the road.
So. If a snow plow is ON the road, and the person driving the truck is getting paid to plow and salt the road, then… uhm… can someone please tell me WHAT that snow plow/driver was doing? I’ll tell you what… it was driving ahead of me for at least a good 5-6 miles. That’s it. Driving. This is very frustrating to me. Why is a plow on the road not plowing?! This is a common occurrence here. It really irks me!

Next, let’s talk about some common sense rules for driving in snow, shall we? First and foremost, if you are going to live in a place that gets snow, learn to deal with it when you drive. Take a winter driving course. Really, it’s worth the investment. Beyond that, for those drivers on the road, here are my top 10 rules for driving in snow:

  1. Brush ALL of the snow off your car. If you do not, you become a hazard to both yourself and others.

    a.  If you get into your car and use your windshield wipes to clear your windshield, and start driving, you are looking for trouble. First, sometimes the snow blows off your car which can be a hazard to the person behind you. Second, YOU CAN’T SEE! You can’t see what’s behind you, you can’t see what’s to the side of you. When you merge, you are trusting that no one is there and if there is, that he or she will stop fast enough to let you over. This is stupid. Take the time to brush off all of your car.

    b. I mean all of your car. Even the top. If you get in and get going and the top of your car isn’t brushed off, two things are bound to happen: one, the snow will slide down and cover your rear window (see a. above); and two, it will blow off in a white-out condition or in dangerous chunks onto the cars behind you, causing hazards for them.

    c. ALL of your car (can I stress this too much?). This means your lights and turn signals too. If you use them and there’s snow on them… they can’t be seen!
  2. Scrape your windows to clear the ice. It helps with the visibility factor and your wipers on your windshield.
  3. Turn your headlights on. Make sure they are not snow covered (see 1 c.)
  4. Make sure your car is fully defrosted from the inside. Don’t drive if you have to scrape the inside windshield at the same time as watching the road. No. Bad person.
  5. Drive slow. If you are an impatient person, too bad. Now’s the time to use your secret patience reserves.
  6. Leave eeexxxxtttrrraaaa space between you and the car in front of you. Seriously. Like 5-6 car lengths. Trust me, someday you will be glad you did.
  7. If someone is tailgating YOU, resist the urge to speed up. Keep your distance from the car in front of you. If you get rear-ended by the idiot behind you, well… I’m sorry. But at least you won’t hit the car in front of you when that happens.
  8. When you see a stoplight, take your foot off the gas and allow your car to slow down slowly. Don’t slam on your brakes as soon as you see stopping. Allowing yourself to slow down slowly is another reason for #6. You have the space to do so.
  9. When pulling out in front of other cars, make sure you just… don’t. Wait. Don’t make someone else slam on their brakes and go into a skid to avoid you pulling out. Find that patience. See #5.
  10. Courtesy, courtesy, courtesy. Seriously… if you have road rage, stay off the road. Or, if you must get on, dig deeeeeeep. Find that itty bitty hiding space where you stuffed your common courtesy and open the cage. Let it out. Let it breathe. Express it. Use your turn signals. If someone else has a turn signal on, slow down and let them in. Blink your headlights to signal that someone can merge in front of you in case they can’t see you well. No tailgating. Smile. Let’s all help each other get home safe.
Because that's what's really important, no?

Rant over.

Thank you for listening.


  1. Having grown up & lived a large portion of my life in snow covered places for many months out of the year, I have to say, fantastic rant!!

    Living somewhere now that doesn't experience snow very often, I can't tell you how much I wish they would at least read something like this as they truly have NO clue! and make it dangerous for those who do know how to handle driving in it.

  2. You could be like me and just take the bus. That is the best part about living here. I don't have to deal with any of it. I love it.

    I also have to agree with you about clearing your car off. Not sure if it is in Ohio, but it is a law here in PA, your car must be clear of all snow and ice. They inforce it too, I have seen quite a number of cars (partially covered) pulled over. They might have been speeding, but since everyone here speeds, I think it was the snow that got them the ticket.

    Drive safe...not recklessly! :)

  3. totally agree with it all, but would add one - don't slow down so much that you can't make it up the hill and start sliding backwards! I can't believe how many drivers around here go TOO slow to make progress. And I've been in the unfortunate position of being behind someone who didn't follow rule #1 and having the entire mound of snow on their roof sliding off onto the road right in front of me. Scary.

  4. SERIOUSLY. You would think Colorado drivers would understand how to drive in the snow... but no. There are lots who don't. I think they're California transplants. I don't drive in the snow... not because I'm not capable (My car is great in the snow), but because I'm scared of THEM! 50 mph on packed snow?! Seriously?!

  5. Why don't you publish that in your little local paper...great job...


I love hearing what you have to say. Thank you for sharing yourself with me!


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