It's worth the time to slow down in bad weather
Although it has snowed before this season, the winter weather arrived with a vengeance a few days ago, and shows little inclination that it is going to leave soon.
Sigh! It's to be expected. But as I've gotten older, each year I've hoped and prayed that each winter will be milder than the last. Much milder. But my prayers never seem to be answered.
Oh well, that's life. Or as Mark Twain once said "Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."
However, there something we can all do during bad weather that would no doubt prove beneficial to us all.
Whenever the rain, snow, ice, and whatever else falls from the heavens during that period, I turn on the scanner and listen with more than a bit of concern. Because I know, like many dispatchers, emergency responders, and local and state police, that the number of motor vehicle accidents rise - sometimes dramatically - whenever the weather turns bad.
If it was perfect world, of course, the best thing to do when things get inclement is to stay indoors and wait for things to get better. Unfortunately most of our lifestyles don't allow for such a luxury. In fact, I'll even confess there have been many bad weather situations where you will more likely as not find me driving out in the stuff. Even though I sincerely hate the idea. But I have to get the scene of a bad accident or some other newsworthy event that has to be covered, and no other options are available.
But one thing I always try to do when driving in bad conditions is pay close attention to what's going and adapt accordingly. Translation: I slow down.
I know that seems pretty obvious, but it would boggle your mind if I told you how many times I've been on the road during slippery conditions, and seen some other drivers going the speed limit - or even faster - apparently unmindful of the fact that there's a much higher risk of going into a bad uncontrollable skid. One time I recalled heading to an accident on Route 220 below Ulster. Even though I was in a hurry, I forced myself to take my time, because I didn't want to become another accident statistic that day. But there were quite a number of people who passed me that day, despite the lousy road conditions. In one instance, someone driving a van was in the process of passing, when his vehicle started to fishtail. He slowed down and fortunately regain control before the van crossed the center life of traffic or skidded off the road, and perhaps slamming into another vehicle in the process.
In another incident, I driving in a heavy fog which pea soup would not have done justice in describing. You could just barely see a few feet in front of your vehicle, and as a result I was only doing about 30 miles per hour in a posted 55 mph zone. Some idiot got behind me and apparently thought I wasn't going fast enough, because he put on his high beams and honked several times, before finally crossing the yellow line and zooming off into the fog at the posted speed limit. If another vehicle had been coming in the opposite direction, he'd have slammed into it, of course. And probably would have attempted to blame me for his own stupidity when he was brought before the judge. But the judge wouldn't have bought it, because as every person in the legal system knows, the posted speed limit is only for ideal conditions. When the weather turns bad, a driver is obligated to slow down to adapt to those conditions.
And there is the rub. With weather conditions so volatile this time of the year, I urge everyone to remember the importance of slowing down when road conditions deteriorate. Sure it takes longer, but isn't it worth the extra time to arrive safely at your destination as opposed to getting into a bad accident which wrecks your car, or someone else's vehicle - or perhaps even cause a worse situation. Think about it.
C.J. Marshall is a writer and columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.