Driving to work this morning with Mrs. NB I came to a realization. As the snow was falling and traffic was momentarily grinding to a halt as we made our way up Deerfoot trail, I realized that not everyone in Calgary is a horrible driver in the snow. Actually, I truly believe it’s far from it. Most people in Calgary are people who have lived in a snowy climate for the majority of their driving life. They know what snow is and aren’t really phased by it. What really screws up the morning/evening commutes are a select group of drivers who ruin it for the rest of us. The people who don’t use due care and attention, don’t maintain proper maintenance or following distance and don’t go into what the police and RCMP refer to as “winter driving mode”. Today on The List, I’m going to break these people down in no particular order.
5) Too Lazy To Brush the Snow Off My Car/Scrape My Windshield Guy
Not going to lie, there was a time in my life I was this guy. Slept in/hungover/short drive to work in the morning, I’d get up, fire up my old truck, clear a tiny portion off the windshield so I can see out and drive to work. I realized the error of my ways however, once I wound up in faster moving traffic like Deerfoot Trail and quickly came to the realization that the more tools I give myself to get to work safely, the safer I’ll be. So if you’re this guy, sack up and take a little extra time in the morning. You will not only make your drive safer, but everyone other drivers on the road as well as there won’t be snow blowing off your vehicle all over the road.
4) No Winter Tires Guy
I’m going to rile up the Winter Tire Nazis for a second here: I do not believe every vehicle needs winter tires (ie larger vehicles like SUV’s & trucks). However, there are vehicles out there that CERTAINLY need winter tires. Your smaller cars and teeny SUV’s with very little weight need winter tires to get around safely in a Western Canadian winter. You just do. Winter tires offer a softer grip that gives you better stopping power and traction. You won’t slide as much and you can stop & start much easier, meaning you’re not slowing down the crawl for everyone else. Now No Winter Tires Guy believes his VW/Civic is just fine. Or, he is just too cheap to go out and get winter tires, even though he had no problem springing for an aftermarket stereo. No Winter Tires Guy gets a reprieve from October to December 1st, but any later in the winter than that and you’re just being a jerk.
3) Snow Anarchy Rules Man (aka Rules Don’t Apply When Snow Falls Guy)
This driver either doesn’t really know the rules of the road or relishes in not obeying them and truly believes that the first sprinkling of snow means that the regular rules that are followed all spring/summer/fall don’t apply any more. Can’t see the lines? LANES DON’T APPLY TO ME ANY MORE! The road is covered in snow? HELL YEAH NO MORE REGULAR 4 WAY STOP PROCEDURE! A little slippery out? Signal lights? ARE YOU CRAZY? I DON’T HAVE TO YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS ANY MORE! Can’t quite see all of the parking stall for snow? I’M PARKING WHEREVER I WANT!!
I’ve always been of the opinion that when the driving gets a little hairy, the rules apply even more so than before, just for everyone’s safety. Snow Anarchy Rules Man usually drives the speed limit or faster even though conditions clearly don’t indicate it’s safe. This driver is also a very close relative to #2 and helps to terrify #1.
2) The Invincible 4X4 Hero Guy
Full disclosure: I drive a 4×4 truck. I love it. I love having 4 wheel drive to be able to move a little better in slick conditions and get through hard snow drifts a lot easier. I like being able to move off the hop on a green light when it’s snowy, while other vehicles are spinning out beside me. Heck, I love the ability to hit the ditch and drive back out again (which has only happened to me on grid roads). However the one thing I do know about my truck (and all big trucks, regardless of tires) is that even with the added traction/weight, they’re not going to stop as fast. Which for some reason doesn’t seem to bother 4X4 Hero Guy when he’s tear-assing down Deerfoot in a blizzard, tailgating other drivers, acting aggressively and openly wondering why everyone else is driving so slow. You guys know who I’m talking about and if there’s one city in Canada (save for Edmonton) that is full of Invincible 4X4 Hero Guys, it’s Calgary. This guy believes his truck (questionable if it’s ever been off road) could get him through any scrape and allows him, in snowy conditions, to drive in any manner he sees fit.
Note: Just because someone drives a jacked up 4X4 does not make him a jerk driver.
1) Mr/Mrs Scaredy Cat
I’ve always held the belief since moving to Calgary that if you’re too scared to drive in this city, you shouldn’t be. And you certainly shouldn’t be driving when the roads are in less than perfect shape. Yet every snow day I see these people, creeping down the street with miles of open road ahead of them, braking half a block in advance of a GREEN light, going 30 in the fast lane of Deerfoot, Crowchild or Glenmore when the lanes beside them are going at least 70 and at the slightest hint of danger, slams on the brakes and grinds everything behind them to a halt. Scaredy cats are also notorious for over-steering, which leads to skidding, which leads to multi-car pileups. And the only thing that makes Scaredy Cats worse is when they happen to be on the road beside number 2 and number 3, which increases the aggression in number 2, and leads number 3 to even further disregard the rules. The Scaredy Cat just panics and turtles, slamming on the breaks and causing already slow moving traffic to stack up. I’m also in firm belief that the abandoned vehicles you see on the road every single snow day are left there by Scaredy Cats who say “screw it” and take the bus instead (something they should be doing from the get go). Seriously, there’s no way cars ONLY fail mechanically when it snows (even though it’s not that cold). If you are terrified to be driving, you are likely going to be a hazard to all of those around you. Just get a ride.
I think I feel better now. Who did I miss? Remember folks, winter driving doesn’t have to be that hard. Just follow the rules, make sure your vehicle is in proper condition and drive accordingly. If we spread the word, maybe we can improve snow day driving for everyone.