Monday, December 17, 2007

Bad weather and bad drivers

It was Friday and we’d just dug out of the first real snow of the season and I was heading for the train station, dropped down into second grinding up the steep hill that climbs to the ridge behind the property where I live and a couple of SUVs go barreling by, going way too fast for the road conditions, but I just ease over and let them do their thing. They have the money to buy another if they wrap it around a tree. Then another SUV comes creeping down the hill, and for this one I actually stop and pull over to the side, on a steep grade, on ice. Not that it was going that fast, but just the opposite. When the driver passed I could see it was an older woman just white-knuckling the steering wheel.

Most people don’t belong behind the wheel of a vehicle. Cars have gotten way too big and powerful for most people to manage, plus they drive them with a cell phone against an ear and a cup of Starbucks in the other hand. In bad weather, most people are overly-confident with the four-wheel drive and the StabilTrak and the big tires, or they put way too much trust in the vehicle like the older lady did. None of those people I passed had any business being behind the wheel of a huge vehicle on such a bad day. All this technology just makes cars and trucks more expensive, putting them out of reach for the average working stiff, and actually gets people out on the road who have no business being there--people who really can’t drive, but let the vehicle do the driving for them. I drive an old, beat-to-shit, white-trash pickup, rear-wheel drive, and in the winter I swap the tires off for studs and weight them down with about 1,200 lbs. of sand and just take it easy. That’s the way the old farmers drove, and it works. I’ve only been stuck once since I’ve been driving pickups starting in 1994. That’s not a bad record. You don't need four-wheel drive if you know how to drive.

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