Trucks at Work

Snow daze

“They‘re actually trying to pass snow plows, which is not a good idea.” Deborah Cox, spokesperson for the Virginia State Police.

I love winter, especially when it snows - but oh how I HATE to drive in it! And the quote from Mrs. Cox above, given to the Washington Post newspaper, sums up why pretty well, I think.

Snow in my neck of the woods (the Washington D.C. metropolitan area) almost always results in a variety of transportation nightmares. We‘ve come a long way in terms of snow control strategies - trucks are now always out on the side of the road ahead of storm, large or small, with plows and sand/salt spreaders at the ready - but we STILL can‘t figure out how to drive in the white stuff.

First thing, of course, is NOT to drive if you don‘t have to. Unfortunately, I had to when we got some three inches of snow yesterday - there are no buses for my preschooler to use. But so many people were out running to the shopping mall, the grocery store, and lord knows what else that it crowded up the slick and snowy streets to a high degree.

Then there‘s the real idjits, who go barreling along at 50 to 60 mph - in SUVs, minivans, even high-tined Lexus sedans - like it‘s a sunny spring day. PEOPLE! Cars SLIDE in snow; the traction is reduced exponentially. If you drive SLOWER and don‘t make violent lane changes (like you‘re in turn three at Talladega, trying to pass Jeff Gordon) you might‘ve avoided that ditch, telephone pole, and tree - much less the other cars crowded next to you.

Maryland State Police Sgt. M. McGuire told the Post that his force handled five times as many wrecks as usual due to all the brainless driving going on, “People are just in a hurry [and] they think they can go as fast as they always do,” he told the paper. Charles County Maryland reported 22 car wrecks in four hours due to poor driving combined with the weather.

It‘s frustrating because I see the same behavior every single time it snows around here. In 2006, I had to drive to the airport in one hell of a February blizzard, following a convoy of trucks (tractor-trailers and snow plows) in the right hand lane on the Capitol Beltway going about 35 mph. Folks came whipping up behind us at 65 mph or more, fishtailing around us with near misses galore. And WHY for goodness sakes? What is so important that you need to go flying down a slick highway in whiteout conditions, when you KNOW there will be slow traffic ahead?

In short, where are everyone‘s brains these days when they get behind the wheel?

You know, there‘s a saying stenciled on the back of every tractor-trailer operated by Giant Foods, one of the big grocery chains in our area: “Careful driving is a civic duty.” Wish more drivers out there would follow that mantra, especially in the snow.