It's winter here in the Heartland, and we've had snow, ice, and freezing rain over the past week. Not that I'm complaining; we got through all of December and most of January with unusually mild weather. But now that we've had some bad weather, it's time for another installment of Winter Driving Tips for Idiots.
It's possible to drive 40 or 50 mph (in a 55 or 65 mph zone) on a highway if you (a) keep a steady pace, (b) stay off the brakes, and (c) allow sufficient space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This is a simple concept that should be apparent to central Illinois drivers, but many of you forget these principles from year to year.
Like the white-knuckled Nellie who cruises along a two-lane state highway at 20 mph, tapping the brakes every few hundred yards. That causes the other drivers in line behind Nellie to tap their brakes, which can lead to slipping and sliding. (Well, it doesn't cause me to use my brakes, as I'm hanging back about 8 seconds from the vehicle in front of me, but the idiots ahead of me are almost kissing bumpers.)
Or the jerk who tailgated me the other evening as I drove 50 mph down a dark, slushy two-lane county highway. I'm sorry you have a small dick, dude, but riding my ass isn't going to magically increase it by two inches, nor will it get me to speed up if I believe that conditions do not warrant it. If you think your rear-wheel drive sedan can handle the roads better than my AWD Forester does, feel free to pass me. If you slide off into the ditch, I might call 911 for you, if I'm feeling charitable.
And speaking of AWD (and ALB), having a vehicle with those features doesn't mean you can drive like the pavement is dry. You still need to exercise caution. The fact that I see plenty of SUVs in the ditch suggests that many drivers haven't realized this simple truth. On the plus side, you just can't put a price on the pleasure of seeing some soccer mom sitting in her SUV in the ditch.
Finally, if the weather is really bad, stay home unless you have a good reason to be out, and leave the roads to those who know how to drive.