So yesterday we had some heavy rain. I use the term “heavy rain” deliberately. It was far from the worst I’ve experienced, it certainly wasn’t light. The meteorologists had actually predicted ceaseless downpours, tornadoes, dragon triplets raining hellfire and the like, as they tend to do. All said as storms go it was sort of whatever. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I got a snap from one of my buddies showing the rain outside his office and informing me he would be WAITING TO LEAVE WORK until the rain let down. Waiting to leave work. Delaying departure from his resented place of employment and the building that houses it until the evening sun gleams low in the sky. I was flummoxed. Baffled. Incredulous. A grown ass man waiting for the rain to give.
It did get me thinking however, at what point, if any, is this kind of behavior ok? When is it ok to change the “when” or “how” of your driving patterns due to weather. There needs to be guidelines. There needs to be rules. We’ve all gotten a little ripshit at someone completely overreacting to inclement weather, crawling down the middle lane of the pike like they are headed directly over the edge of the cliff but have accepted that as their fate. So let’s put this in internet-blood.
First a quick disclosure/request for absolution: I really am not trying to sound like Tommy Tough Guy here. To those not from Northern states or those who haven’t been here long, you have to understand that when you grow up here, the very second your hand touches a wheel you’re dealing with bullshit weather. Rain, sleet, snow, a mixture of all three weather people cheerfully refer to as a “wintery mix.” Fucking wintery mixes. The first time I had a friend actually read that off a weather report was in college and I briefly blacked out only to come to to find myself holding a half a bottle of Jack by the neck about to hit him over the head with it. Anyway, the bottom-line is we’re all used to the 50% chance of crap weather. We have no excuse, everyone who lives here however, needs to get better.
To start there are two variables we need to hone in on:
1.)How good or bad of a driver you and your friend see yourself. Other’s opinion matters because your skill behind the wheel is sometimes hard to objectively judge yourself. Needless to say, if in general you are a disaster, just please stay off the fucking road. Because I’ll tell ya, I’m kind of a misanthrope. I’m a curmudgeon. To be honest I made a New Years Resolution that I’d hate less shit than I do now. But NOTHING makes my blood more than some nimrod who has no business operating motorized transportation fucking up my morning commute pre-coffee. Nothing*.
2.)The kind of bad weather it is. Snow is worse than rain, generally. A drizzle should be ignored while light snow is still gonna fuck with visibility a bit. Different levels of drivers need to take into consideration exactly what they are getting themselves into, not just that it’s “bad out”.
Let’s start by filtering by weather, and go from “Nuclear Winter” to “Are you fucking kidding me, buy a T pass”
-In a white-out conditions, everyone sort of does just need to be a little more patient, I’ll concede that. However, and this is a point I’ll probably reference again, our speed limits are there for a reason. Our roads were designed by civil engineers who also had an input on the speed limits based on a qualified driver and fully functioning vehicle. So as long as you are comfortable behind the wheel of a car in general and the car is in basic upkeep for bad weather (breaks and tires), there is NO NEED to go 10mph. I get 50, 40, 30 even if you keep in the right lane, put your hazards on, and put signs in your window that say “sorry”, but do not overreact. Again as I said in qualifying variable 1, if you are that shitty of a driver, just stay off the fucking road. Tell your boss you can’t do it, if he/she endangers you, or more importantly me, by making you come in, get a new job.
-I would argue the worst of the rain is more dangerous, more because of people. They get so skittish and cause single car crashes. Then other people see that and get confused and scared and all hell breaks loose. The thing is, a very rain slicked, dark road is kind of a motherfucker. Go slow (same guidelines as a whiteout, maybe a little faster) but more importantly give space. No one will be slamming on their breaks and skidding if you don’t attempt to see the backs of their heads. Spacing is the key here. In terms of driver skill, if you kind of suck stay in the right lane, or right middle lane on a 4 way. Take it easy. I don’t blame/feel homicidal about slow people in driving rain like I do in other situations. Just their way of saying “I’m a below average human and I just want to live”. That’ll do pig, that’ll do.
Be Weary, But Don’t Shit Your Pants
-In light-medium snow, put on your wipers and keep it going. If you are a bad driver you’ll know it here because you’ll be sweating thinking about it. Hitch a ride and save us all the trouble. That said if you go below 50 here you’re an asshole, not including obvious things like off-ramps. This is the kind of weather that is more visually unsettling than anything else. Sack up.
-Light-medium rain has to have the most absurd accident/fatality to rational creation of danger ratio. People see it and freak out, or cower in fear as my buddy did yesterday (again, yesterday was a tick above medium but still). As long as you, you know, don’t go 90 mph and you stay in your lane, you’re gonna be fine. Again it is rain so maybe be a little more aware of spacing, but that’s it. I’ll SORT of second my right lane comment when it comes to bad drivers, but in all honesty if this stuff makes you drive like you’re headed off the well aforementioned cliff, stay home.
Are. You. Fucking. Kidding Me.
-Light rain, light snow, sunshine, clouds, I don’t care. Speed limits are meant to be slightly broken. People in the middle and left lane are supposed to be allowed to break them. Do not be that dick who clogs the flow of traffic especially during rush hour. If you are a shitty or slow driver, get a ride or use the T. Shit I’ll pick you up if it means I don’t have to tailgate you going 60 at 7am with open roads ahead.
*Except for you Justin Bieber. You’re time will come.