On Wednesday we saw something we didn’t like, which was a big spike in vehicle collisions on local roadways. These crashes occurred during the first significant snowfall of the year. Sadly, we see the same pattern repeated each year — first snow, lots of crashes.
Our reporting crew spends time each year when this happens pondering the cause and always end up with poor driving decisions being the culprit. And, each year we read in some newspaper that a big snowfall caused a rash of crashes. No it didn’t. Driver error caused the crashes.
While a snow-covered road may be difficult to drive on, thousands of local drivers do so daily in the winter without crashing. Why? Because they use caution while driving in bad weather conditions. They realize that four very small tire footprints are the only thing holding them on the slippery surface and they reduce speed to get their vehicles to grip that surface better.
But for some reason that we have yet to figure out, a number of local drivers decide each winter during the first few days of snowy weather that they don’t need to slow down or leave extra distance between them and the vehicle ahead. They must feel invincible, or maybe they believe that their four small tire tracks are better than those on other vehicles. So, the collision rate climbs when these inattentive drivers suddenly discover the laws of physics really do apply to their vehicle, four-wheel drive or not.
We think that an application of common sense is the only way to reduce this annual bout of bumper cars on local roads. Local police agencies, insurance companies and yes, the media, should all work together each year before the holidays to remind drivers that when the snow starts to fall, so should the speed of their vehicles. But of course, drivers must then heed those warnings to avoid these seasonal collisions.
Winter has just begun here north of the 41st parallel and we have a long way to go until the daffodils bloom. Depending on the attitudes of the driver involved, this can either be a safe or dangerous winter driving season. Our suggestion to drivers is to slow down and leave extra stopping distance when there is snow and ice on the roads. This caution will go a long way in ensuring this winter driving season is as safe as it can be.