My comments from last week, which were about the increasing rate people are driving off our interstate highway, contains a few of the many bad weather driving tips I feel qualified to pass on to you. I feel qualified because in 35 years of driving in Vermont, I've not slid off the interstate. Not being cocky, just sayin' so.
If you study and practice, meditate on the following thoughts and tips-you won't necessarily always stay between the white lines, but you'll be better equipped to try like hell.
When driving, try hard to stay focused. I do and attribute my ability to focus to the two notes listed below:
1. My Greyhound Bus driver dad (nicknamed "Dry Ice DeWees" by his peers), taught me to drive and instilled in me the importance of steadfast concentration.
2. There are two kinds of drivers: those who've crashed, and those who are going to crash. Carrying this creed helps remind me to keep practicing the first rule.
From approximately mid-October to late April, in less then half of one minute, Vermont's interstate highway conditions can turn from 100 percent clear and dry, to 100 percent wet and slick with zero visibility. Always remember that and you'll never let your guard down. Then, too, reserve a portion of your mind to house the following: "If I drive well within my ability and the parameters of which the present conditions allow for me to end up in the ditch, I'd have steer and aim for it."
Am I suggesting keeping from driving into a ditch during a snowstorm can be done simply through the power of mind over matter? Not exactly.
Whenever possible, stay off the roads when they're bad. These days weathercasters forecast a month in advance-heed their warnings. Schedule your fun night out another time, and or, don't schedule fun nights out, period. Most of you people who drive off the road are the type to complain about taxes. If you stay the heck home, you'll save money and have more left to spend on your taxes, so you won't feel the need to complain, and the less complaining you do the more relaxed you'll be, which will free your spirit to the point that you'll be more likely to want to stay home and enjoy the company of your spouse and children, thus keeping you off the roads. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, as staying home in bad weather is connected to not going off the road, is connected to... happily paying taxes?
Run an aggressive tread winter tire. They're expensive, but so are those undies you soiled when you arrived at a stand-still, tire-side up, smashed against a rock ledge with a face full of powder blown there a blast from your bald-all-seasons-sportin' SUV's side air bags. Winter tires!
While driving on the interstate with a gal I'm hoping to get friendly with later, I pull a little to the right and run over the rumble strip cut-outs on the shoulder for five seconds or so to try and jiggle her emotional sexual apparatus so's just to get her at least thinking about it. Works most every time. Don't forget too, rumble strips are where to run your right side tires when the direct path pavement gets icy or covered with snow. The rumble strips, aside from being an aphrodisiac can provide sturdy purpose to your vehicle's traction.
I'll say though, if visibility is at all sketchy, stay the hang off of the shoulder as to not bash into a disabled car. Man O' man, you bang into a stopped car on the shoulder going seventy miles an hour, the next most interesting thing that happens regarding you would be your cat's behavior while she tries to figure out where the heck her master is.
Which reminds me: stopping totally due to road conditions is never recommended. If you are stationary on the road you are a sitting duck. Stop completely only if you have to because of a flat tire or engine failure. If conditions are extremely poor regarding traction or visibility (Visibility is generally better than you might think. Gauge it by how far away you estimate a car is when you first spot it's lights. But don't hang your hat on that rule, use it only to bolster your confidence in allowing you to drive safely, not faster), try your best to at least keep crawling along a mile or three and hour. That way if someone does ram into you, your forward inertia will minimize the impact, and, creeping along will assure you will at some point finally arrive at your destination, which of course is better than not arriving at all.
It's nearly time I wrap this up and I've not yet touched on the dastardliest of road conditions. So, next week's column will be full of thoughts about detecting and operating safely through the many situations that occur related to-ice.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com