Monday, February 8, 2010

Rules for the Road: Stay Inside or DIE

You know how the anchors--particularly on local news--yammer on and on any time the weather turns bad about things like, "Stay home unless you absolutely have to be out," and, "It's very dangerous to be driving, so please stay off the roads unless it's a matter of life and death?"

Yes, I know such talk quickly grows tiresome; the local reporters here even realized it, several times prefacing the standard warning fare with, "I know people are tired of hearing this, but..."

However, after what I witnessed today, I don't think the message is strong enough.  No, I've got a new suggestion for the media yammerheads to share with the snowbound public who are considering exiting their homes and taking a leisurely stroll or drive: "Do not drive. Do not walk in the road. Stay inside or you will DIE."

I won't get into the whole story now, other than to say that what even in the snow should have been a 15 minute drive at most took well over an hour, and all of it due to idiots who really shouldn't be out, either on foot or atop a set of tires.  I will, however, offer the following suggested rules for those who would dare to venture out and challenge the roads:
  1. If you are a pedestrian, walk on the left side of the road, and keep your eyes out and ears open for cars.  When you notice a car coming, get out of the middle of the road, particularly if it's a plow coming toward you.  If it comes to a fight over the road with a car, I guarantee you the pedestrian will lose.  And if I have to choose between wrecking my car and wrecking you, I know which I will choose (hint: it's not my car).
  2. If you are a pedestrian, do not stop passing cars to chat.  Holding a conversation in the middle of the street might be considered "quaint" in the netherlands of Norman Rockwell postcards and Dueling Banjos, but when you see eight cars backed up in each direction because you seem unaware of this space-age gadget known as the telephone and its place in communications history, maybe you should get with the program.
  3. If you're in a car driving down a street plowed only one lane wide, the considerate thing to do when you see oncoming traffic is to look for the widest spot and pull as far to the side as you can.  Not to barrel at full-speed forward and expect the other driver to put his or her car into reverse, or worse, expect the other driver to plow into a snowbank to avoid a head-on collision with you just so you can drive down the middle of the road, three feet away from the plowed shoulder.  I have as much the right to the road as you.
  4. If you do not feel up to driving faster than your grandmother or feel that you have to ignore all concept of separate traffic lanes, perhaps that is a clue that you should stay home.  This rule applies double on roads which have been well-plowed and in which dry (or even wet) blacktop is showing through, and treble for those who are driving in the left lane.  Your snail's pace is more a danger to your life than the snow and ice on the roads.
  5. On the other hand, just because you have a SUV does not entitle you to drive 55 mph.  Think of how silly you'll feel when you have to have that big four wheel drive minibus pulled out of a snow bank by a tow truck, as people cruise by at 35 in their little sedans and snicker.
  6. Stop signs DO mean you.  There is no waiver in effect for traffic signals and signs simply because the roads are slick--better to stop slowly and short of the intersection than to T-bone someone who was obeying the rules.
  7. Be patient and polite, even with all the idiots out and about (this is the hardest rule for me to personally follow, but I do my best).
Just doing my part for public safety!

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