Dear A**Hole Driver,
Now that the first major snow of the season is upon us, I think we need to have a little chat, about your attitude, about your behavior. I know you’re likely a transplant from California, and I can’t say I blame you. Idaho is a gorgeous state with a lot to offer (and not to mention a Constitutional requirement to balance our budget every year). I know you probably came here because you were sick of the “liberal such and such” and wanted to move your family somewhere with a better sense of morality and values. And where better than the reddest of the red states for that? Indeed, we have both virtue AND beauty here, and we can go backpacking in the heart of the wilderness without having to pay a $50 registration fee to use the land that is technically ours anyway. And since we have all this room, you can sprawl and congest to your heart’s content. But that is neither here nor there.
The point of this letter is to tell you this: If you plan on setting roots here, if you plan on staying, there are some serious adjustments you’re going to have to make. The least of which is your snow driving. To get you started, here are some friendly tips, based on common misconceptions:
1. Pick-up Trucks are good snow cars. I know I know. All the farmers and ranchers drive them, and they are so cool and “rural.” That big huge F-150 you bought so you could commute in style for 20 miles each way every day is probably a great choice if you want people to think you work in construction, or on a ranch. And looking that good I’m sure is a worthwhile trade-off for getting only 5 mpg. HOWEVER. Pick-up trucks are actually very bad in the snow, because they have zero weight over the tires. “So why do the ranchers and farmers drive them?” you may ask. Well here’s the deal. Those guys actually use their trucks, which means that generally speaking they’ve got a lot of stuff in them. A lot of heavy, heavy stuff. For people who don’t actually use your trucks for anything except looking cool, you’re going to want to invest in some sandbags at the very least.
2. SUV’s make you invincible in the snow. So maybe you realized that a big pick-up truck was a poor choice, or maybe you just have 20 kids and need to drive them all around. So you bought a Suburban or an Exodus, or whateverthehell kind of gigantic SUV the kids are driving these days. And it’s got fancy tires and 4-wheel drive and blah blah blah. That’s kind of cool. Here’s why: Those things are great at getting you un-stuck from snowbanks, ditches, and foot-deep snow that’s built up while you were at work all day. But despite what you might think, an SUV does not make you invincible. And under no condition should you be led to believe that they will help you STOP any faster, once you’re sliding. SUV are good for getting moving because they are big and heavy. But they are bad at stopping, because they are big and heavy. And this has to do with physics and the laws of friction and inertia. If you don’t know what they are, I recommend you look it up before getting back on the road.
3. The speed limit is 35, so that’s what everyone should drive. The speed limit is a limit. That means its the fastest you are allowed to go. You are allowed to drive slower than the speed limit. In fact, I’d highly recommend that you do just that when there are 4 inches of snow piled on top of a slick of slush, on top of a layer of ice. Generally speaking, the speed limit for ALL ROADS changes to 15-20 mph when the roads are this slick. And yes, highways and freeways are roads. Driving slow is not a sign that you’ve lost your manhood. I promise.
4. I can totally stop in time. No you can’t. But don’t take this as a personal failing. No one else can either. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you do not ride my bumper just because I’m driving under the speed limit and you’re in a hurry. If you’re in a hurry, that’s your fault (see below). Pay attention, and give everything twice as much room as you normally would. Again, being careful doesn’t make you less of a man. Really.
5. I can leave at the same time I normally do. Driving in the snow is not the same as driving on dry roads. I just can’t stress this enough. I know you don’t have snow in California, so this may be a difficult concept to grasp. Here’s an easy rule of thumb. Leave an extra 20 minutes early for wherever you are going, then breathe deep, relax, and take your time. Do not leave at the same time you normally do and then get pissed off that everyone is getting in your way. This won’t do you any good, and it won’t do me any good either. You’re a grown-up. Plan ahead.
These simple tips will help you not only fit in better with the locals (which I know is your main concern), but will also keep you from being one of those numerous SUVs and pickup trucks flipped over on the side of the road getting passed by a bunch of rusted out Subarus driving 15 miles per hours.