Next up in my “Prepare for the Worst!” series is Winter Storms. Winter Storms are those bills that you know are coming put you still put off paying until the last minute. Then, when the time comes to pay it you realized that you blew all your money on beer and ceramic eggs. Then, you have to choose between groceries or having electricity in your home for the next month. Every year, winter rolls around and people suddenly forget how to drive in icy conditions, have dressers full of swimsuits but no hats or gloves, and a half empty cooler taking up all the space in their trunk where their tire chains used to be stored.
So, before you’re stuck in your freezing home or on the side of the road in your board shorts and wicked cool shades, you should read on and learn what you can do to Prepare for the Worst!
If you want to read up on Part 1 of this series focusing on Power Outages, click here
Ice and Snow, Take It Slow! Don’t Crowd the Plow!
First off, I want to give credit to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for coming up with some great slogans. “Ice and Snow, Take It Slow!” and “Don’t Crowd the Plow” are great because they rhyme and briefly tell you exactly what to do when driving in a winter storm. Anything slogan should be simple, easy to remember and say, and made extra fun to say when exclamation points are added. Bonus points are given if any slogan also doubles as a euphemism that any guy could use in a bar when he’s being cockblocked, “Hey man, Don’t Crowd the Plow!”
Let’s take a look at the WSDOT’s other tips for winter weather driving:
• Do not be the driver who shuts down the pass! Drive for conditions – slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking in winter conditions.
I love this bullet point. It expands on the above slogan “Ice and Snow, Take It Slow!” by using the word “slow” four times. If you don’t get the message to slow down from that, you just aren’t trying. Or you’re reading like Kevin James viewing a movie.
• Use your headlights.
If you don’t already do this in a winter storm, I want to punch you. Of course, this doesn’t mean leaving your high beams on while other cars are passing by you. It’s common courtesy…Jerk.
• Don’t use cruise control.
Unless you’re driving for three or more hours straight, there is no reason to use cruise control. You’re just being lazy. The fact that there are numerous signs in parking lots telling people not to use cruise control makes me want to strangle someone. Why the hell would you need cruise control in a parking lot, let alone a winter storm? The fact this even has to be addressed by the WSDOT is really evidence that we need higher standards for driver’s licensing. Perhaps some sort of intelligence/common sense exam.
• Four and all-wheel drive vehicles will not stop or steer better in icy conditions than two-wheel drive vehicles.
This is interesting because it debunks what most people believe about winter driving. In other words, your lifted, 4x4, V8, obnoxious truck is not going to fair any better than my little Toyota in the snow. So, I need you to do two things. First, shut the hell up about your truck because no one gives a shit about how much horsepower you have or what you can tow. Second, stop driving like a douche bag and weaving in and out of traffic like you’re tough shit. You’re not. I’ll see you flipped over in a ditch on the 5 o’ clock news while I’m cozy in my pajamas at home with a warm cup of cocoa because I know better than to drive like a dick in the snow.
• Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. And remember, big trucks take longer to stop.
If you don’t already do this, you drive like an asshole. Cut it out.
Oh, by the way, a two ton tanker truck takes longer to stop than a Honda Civic. If you can’t do the math on that on yourself and slow the hell down, then you should just play Russian roulette with loaded shotgun. You’d have better odds of not killing yourself, not to mention you wouldn’t be putting others at risk with your idiocy!
• Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots.
(See above comment)
• If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it is safe to pass. Remember that a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.
Don’t Crowd the Plow!
• Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas. There are often people out of their vehicles moving around.
This is another law of common sense, not to mention common decency. It is ridiculous that people would see others milling about on the side of the road and would not care to slow down at all, or rather would continue yapping unnecessarily loud on their douchey Bluetooth ear pieces. Let’s be honest, the same self-righteous, self-centered, self-important (notice the theme here), people who drive way too fast, tailgate, and obnoxiously ignore social conventions/common courtesy are the same ones who wouldn’t care to slow down even if their own mother was crossing the street. Obviously, they are just too busy to think of other people or anything else but the fact that they have to get somewhere as soon as possible and just “don’t have the time” to slow down or be cautious. I find it ridiculous that these people never have enough time for anyone/anything else, yet they are always stuck doing things at the last minute and freaking out. This happens because they don’t plan ahead and manage their time like a rabid, cracked addict monkey looking for a fix in a clock store. Most of these people aren’t as busy as they make it sound, and naturally, they have the same amount of hours in a day to get things done as everyone else. Yet, when it comes time to get something done, they show up late and try to get special treatment because they think their time is more valuable.
The Most Dangerous Time of the Year
For example, let’s look at that wonderful bonus holiday that retailers enjoy, Black Friday. Every year, workers and shoppers are trampled in the name of mindless consumerism and the drive to get the best deal possible on televisions and various other “essential” goods. In fact, a man was KILLED a few years ago because he was trampled by people competing for cheap goods. Let’s ignore the fact that this happened at a Walmart (of course!). One has to wonder what were these people thinking as they were stepping on this poor man, trapped under the hooves of these consumer animals. Just think about it, these people were so enamored by the bright lights and signs promising sales and best deal for those who got there first, they didn’t even notice they had killed a man.
Now, I don’t blame Walmart for this (though a lawsuit the family won says differently), nor do I blame all of the shoppers. I blame the people that have the same mentality of the drivers I referenced above. The people at store openings on Black Friday, who carry self-centered, “me first,” attitudes, are the same ones responsible for senseless tragedies like that poor man being trampled. These are the same people who cause senseless accidents in bad driving conditions and you can bet they were the first ones to shove someone else down in front of the crowds at that Walmart a few years ago. They feel entitled to that big screen television and cutting you off in a winter storm because they’re so much more important than you. In the jungle that becomes Black Friday every year at stores across the nation, these people become the cornered lion who will lash out without warning or regard for anything or anyone else, and we are the ones who get scratched.