Editorial - What kind of driver are you when bad weather strikes?Winter storms have a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. When the wind turns the world white and snow stacks up on streets and driveways, people have a way of pulling through it together.
Winter storms have a way of bringing out the best and worst in people.
When the wind turns the world white and snow stacks up on streets and driveways, people have a way of pulling through it together.
You’ll see a neighbor clearing out the driveway of another neighbor whose snowblower is on the fritz.
You’ll see people holding open doors at stores for other customers, giving them an extra second or two of escape from the cold.
You’ll hear strangers swapping storm stories in a grocery store or sharing information on which roads are the worst to take.
You’ll notice many drivers who actually slow down, drive more carefully and adjust to the slippery, low-visibility conditions. Amazingly, during last weekend’s storms, no serious crashes were reported in Douglas County. Yes, there were dozens of fender-benders, rollovers and vehicles in the ditch but none caused serious injuries. Drivers deserve some credit for that.
But unfortunately, wintry whiteouts also turn some drivers into impatient beasts. When the weather turns ugly, they get uglier. They follow much too close behind other vehicles. If the other vehicle had to stop, there’s no way they could stop in time to avoid a crash, no matter how much they paid for their four-wheel drive SUV.
Yet you see those drivers out there in every storm, shining their headlights into the rearview mirror of the careful driver ahead of them, just itching for the chance to pass.
They’re the ones who drive 60 in a 50 mph zone, or 40 in a 30 mph zone, no matter what the conditions may be. They’re the ones who gun their engine as they pass, leaving other drivers in a cloud of blinding snow. They’re the ones who think it’s fun to purposely hit their brakes to send their vehicles into a slide that they can steer out of – maybe – before they hit something. “Look what my vehicle can do,” they seem to be thinking.
And then there are the drivers who think they’re infallible, that no little snowstorm could impede their driving abilities. An online reader made a good point about that after reading our story on the 621 vehicles that slid off the road and the 67 crashes that happened in the Alexandria/Moorhead region last weekend. Here’s what she said:
“There was more than enough warning about this blizzard. It had been forecasted days in advance. I think the state needs to invest in large billboards on the interstate telling people that if they choose to travel in spite of being informed of the weather and road conditions, they are on their own. We should not have to risk the lives of our officers and rescue workers and snow plow drivers on account of people who ignore weather reports and warnings. As former governor Jesse Ventura once said, ‘It’s nature’s way of eliminating the stupid,’ referring to snowmobilers going out on open lakes in spite of being warned. It is pathetic that we need to chase after people as if they were toddlers to keep them from harming themselves. We should not have to tolerate that kind of stupidity.”
The next time a nasty winter storm hits, there will once again be acts of kindness and acts of stupidity. Let’s just all try to make sure that courtesy prevails.
Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper’s editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter, Celeste Beam.