It seems I can't get away from the weather, at least not the news reports about the weather. I'm beginning to think it's a conspiracy because all the reports about our winter weather seem to affect people in negative ways. One of the most obvious effects I've seen: people driving stupid.
I'm not talking about the folks down South dealing with weather that is unusual for them. I expect driving catastrophes because they aren't prepared for those kind of driving conditions. It's what I'm seeing up here in winter wonderland New England that has me shaking my head.
From what I've witnessed over the past few days you'd think that folks around here have never experienced driving in snowy conditions. They're driving way too fast for conditions, tailgating, passing slower traffic which is going slow for good reasons, playing chicken with plowtrucks, and trying to ram through snowbanks that are way too big as they try to force their way in to or out of their driveways. This is the type of stuff I expect from flatlanders, not hardy New Hampshire Yankees.
My drive home from work late Thursday afternoon was one of the most harrowing experiences I've had in years. Visibility was poor, the roads were covered with inches of snow sitting on top of an icy surface, and steering and braking were more like suggestions rather than control inputs. With conditions like that you'd think people would slow down, take it easy, and play it safe.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Some drivers were still trying to travel at the posted speed limit (55mph where I happened to be at the time) and were pissed off that everyone else was traveling at 30 or 35mph. These same clueless dopes then tried to pass the line of cars and trucks preventing them from going faster, in some cases causing them to lose traction and spin out, or in one case, end up in a ditch.
It's one thing if this happened with only one or two drivers, but I'm talking about seeing just under a dozen (11) during my 8.5 mile trip between work and home. Now multiply this by how many other dopes there might be throughout the rest of New Hampshire and we're talking about a substantial number of idiots out there. Or was it possible it was merely a local phenomenon, affecting drivers just in the southern Lakes Region of the state?
I don't know, but this trip had a pucker factor much higher than any other I've had in decades. I'm not a curmudgeonly old fart driver (just a curmudgeonly driver, thank you very much) thinking everyone else is a bad driver. I do my share of 'above the limit' driving, but only when the weather and traffic conditions allow. I am fully cognizant of the laws of physics as they pertain to vehicles, the two biggest being inertia and the coefficient of friction. That's why I slow down under adverse conditions, particularly when the coefficient of friction is a fraction of what we usually see on a dry road, because if I don't I know inertia will prove itself to be a bitch and will take me someplace I don't want to go.
Too bad some of the drivers I saw on Thursday afternoon (and Friday morning, come to think of it) chose to ignore physics and paid the price for their folly.