Ice Cometh, Man: No, You Are Not an Excellent Driver

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Oh, no. The ice-driving season is about to come back to Dallas for its annual reign of terror. We're all going to die.

When I moved to Texas from Michigan about 100 years ago, the common wisdom was that people from the North knew how to drive on ice and people from Texas didn't. I liked that version. I still wish it were true.

Unfortunately, all kinds of factors have intervened since then. For one thing, recent studies have shown that the big problem isn't so much people who can't drive on ice. It's people who can't drive.

Every year year GMAC Insurance publishes a national survey of driving skills. The absolute dumbest drivers in the nation, according to the 2011 survey, are in D.C. The second dumbest are in Hawaii. I have no idea what to make of that. Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts are right behind. We're 33rd place in Texas -- pretty crappy but not that crappy.

The dumbest region of the country for driving skills, according to this year's survey, is the Northeast -- a consistent theme over the years. Last year's survey showed that drivers in the Northeast were especially prone not to know what a yellow light is. It was not that they knew but didn't want to slow down. They didn't know a yellow meant you were supposed to slow down.

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Texas winter driving tip: If you're driving and see this guy pass you, PULL YOUR DUMB ASS OVER.
Oh, boy, yellow light ahead. This is a tough one. What does it mean? Uh ... slow down? Go faster? Turn on the radio?

So if people don't know they're supposed to slow down for a yellow, how smart do we think they're going to be about various weather conditions? This year's survey shows that 18 percent of the people on the road today couldn't pass a written driver's exam. Nationally. You can't even move away from them.

Edmunds.com has some ice driving tips at their site, including my personal favorite: Just stay home. But even their tips include a lot of depressing information -- the fact that people think they can fly around icy corners at high speed because they have anti-lock brakes, electronic stabilization control or all-wheel drive.

I don't think that's a regional thing. It's probably global and has a to do with the way technology and advertising are conspiring to make the whole species more stupider.

Anyway, I don't trust Yankees on the ice any more. I don't trust nobody. This is my tip for driving in Dallas the first day the freezing rains return: Sit kind of sideways on the seat so you can stare out the windshield and the back window of the car at the same time and every time a car comes up fast behind you grit your teeth and squeal like a dog. It just helps me get through it. Don't say I didn't try to help.


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32 comments
Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

For the typical Texan the answer to any driving problem be it rain, sleet, ice, deer, sun light, etc. is "MORE SPEED!".

We know how well that always turns out.

Submitted for you approval, here's two Texas drivers of Corvettes in the Woodlands,  TX who decide to drag race on road with bicyclist and children around on Thanksgiving.

Thankful only they suffered the consequences, . . .

http://youtu.be/kzlg3oQMze4

just sayin'
just sayin'

I would like to see a more fearless study. One that proves that 80% of people on the interstate driving slow in the fast lane and refusing to move over are black women. Or 75% of people blocking traffic by stopping in the middle lane to take a last second right turn are middle eastern. Or that 90% of people sliding into other drivers during the occasional texas ice storm are young rednecks that think duallys are ice proof.

Don Abbott
Don Abbott

What a thrill to live here last February when Jerry Jones and Roger Staubach had what was coming to them with an EXCELLENT Super Bowl ice/snow fiasco.  Although the Dec. 1972, the Dec. 1978, and Nov. 1993  ice storms were thicker and slicker, the Super Storm couldn't have been timed any better and proved that karma can be a fantastically delicious thing. 

cp
cp

If we didn't still have ice-age types of bosses who think you think you have to be managed to death or else you won't file that darn TPS report, then we'd be more comfortable and willing to tell our understanding bosses that it's just too stupid to be driving around and we'll work from home during the bad weather days. 

Did I miss something, or do we in fact live in the digital age? 

TimCov
TimCov

I have driven in multiple parts of the world. I have seen winters in Northern Germany and Saudi Arabia. Anyone with half a brain tries to stay home in icy weather in Texas. It is not the driving ability of others alone that inspires this. We also just don't have the equipment for this kind of weather. Our vehicles, our roads, and our road equipment are not up to the job.I am so happy I now have a job where I can work from home.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Perhaps this year we can have the toboggan car-sled tryouts on the High Five when it ices over.   Or perhaps they should just close it down and find some way to ferry sleders or skiers up to the top for them to slide down.   Seriously I plan to buy a couple bags of sand for the house (and the street outside) and for the cars too.

Hannibal_Lecter
Hannibal_Lecter

It's funny when someone who thinks they know it all spouts off in public about something they obviously know nothing about. Unfortunately, Schutze, you seem to be doing this more and more lately.

While a flashing yellow light means caution, a solid yellow (technically amber) light does not mean slow down. When used in a traffic signal, under Texas law all a yellow light indicates is that the signal is about to change to change to red. You do not have to slow down for a yellow light. You do not have to stop for a yellow light. There is no such thing as "running" a yellow light. In terms of legally entering an intersection, a yellow light is exactly the same as a green light. Only when the signal turns red are you prohibited from entering the intersection.

The next time you write about the "dumbest" drivers, perhaps you should consider it a start on your autobiography?

Rooster
Rooster

Note to self - stay out of this dude's zip code in inclement weather....

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

So, Hannibal, please tell us: what do you do when you see a yellow light?

scottindallas
scottindallas

Jim, you decide, whether you can pass the intersection line before the light turns red, if not, I begin to stop.  Slowing down, could actually cause one more danger as the light, even the yellow is timed to allow someone driving the posted speed to clear the intersection.  Slowing down could protract your voiding the intersection, exposing you to those timing or gunning the light.  Again, at posted speeds, if you enter the intersection on a yellow, you should be able to pass through before the others get a green light.  As someone who drives a dually, I find I need to speed up to hit the posted speed. 

Look Jim, in case you haven't noticed, good old red meat partisan positions are much better for your comment count, and likely your readership.  Stick with that and at least you'll keep Rob't happy.  I'm guessing there's no pleasing you.  (good thing)

Ed D.
Ed D.

Right, it's a judgment call, but unless you're very close to the intersection when the light turns yellow, the odds are good that it will be red by the time you reach the line. Slowing down is what most folks will have to do so they can be stopped safely for that red light. (Engaging the warp drive is what far too many drivers choose, even if it means the light will be red as they blast through the intersection.)

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

Hannibal, I'm not hearing back from you, so I am forced to interpolate. I can only conclude that your mental process would be, "Yellow light ahead. Guess they want me to keep going fast like it was a green light."So let me ask you another question: why do you think they have yellow lights?You can do this, Hannibal. Give it a try.

JimS
JimS

Suburban: you got it.

Guest
Guest

I didn't even realize they used the Texas Motorist's Handbook in the Northeast.

But despite what the handbook says, you're clearly supposed to do something when the light turns yellow (indicating that it's about to turn red). You either start slowing down in anticipation of having to stop for the red light, or you keep going because you can't safely slow and stop before entering the intersection.

So, if you asked people what they're supposed to do when they see a yellow light, and they answer, "I have no fucking clue. The handbook just says the light is about to turn red, which means absolutely nothing to me", they're probably not someone you want sharing the road with you.

Josh Ehlke
Josh Ehlke

Jim, Hannibal is correct.  A solid yellow light simply means that the light is going to change to red soon. Its on page 5-1 on the Texas motorist handbook if you want to check it out. Nothing there about slowing down. Or if you're really bored, its Title 7, Subtitle C, Sec. 544.007(e) in the Texas statutes.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

My moms from Ohio, so I learned how to drive in great lakes winters and these piddley-assed excuses for "school closers" down here. I have proper tools in my car including an ice scrapper/snow brush know how to properly drive in the mess that is Dallas on a snow day.

cp
cp

Ice "scrapper"? 

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

Survey said nation's best drivers are from the middle west. I figured that's because, what else have they got to do?

cp
cp

I am Wintering in Minnesota and I have to say, I'm appalled at four-way stop signs. Why? Because they actually know how they work!

When it snowed two weeks ago, I took the four-wheel drive Jeep out for a fun spin and no, they do not stop in the snow/ice. Thankfully the roads were barren of other drivers. 

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Shit Jim is this the best you can come up with on slow Bumday. Dallass mostly ends up with glare ice or what you carpetbaggers call black ice. Ooops that ain't supposed to be a race thang. Spike tires ain't for sale down here cept in the Valley but that's cuz of road spikes.

Paul
Paul

Was this on the final round of "Family Feud"?  Survey Says .... 8-D

Nick R.
Nick R.

Was almost destroyed during the Super Bowl going under 35 at the Maple-Routh connection. Drifted right through a red light, thought self would die.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Tips from a former Colorado resident:

1. 4 wheel drive doesn't make you stop any better, morons.2. Get the hell away from me. All I want is space in crappy road conditions. Don't be on my bumper, don't match my speed beside me, don't take up two freaking lanes. 3. Death grips on the wheel don't help.4. Try using your turn signals for once.5. Buy a damn ice scraper.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Good advice.  From another Colorado resident

6.  Fresh snow is your friend.  Ruts are not.

But really, why buy an ice scraper.  You can just do as my former neighbors did and try to melt the ice off the window with hot water.  The sight of that windshield cracking made it worth it to live in Dallas.

Paul
Paul

Of course it is helpful to know the true difference between 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive ....

2 wheel drive gets you stuck,4 wheel drive gets you more stuck.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

How do you know it recently snowed in Colorado?

All the abandoned pickups and SUVs in the medians.

Paul
Paul

Knobbies work better in snow than highway tread

Paul
Paul

From "Starman" ...

"Of course I know how to drive ...Green means goYellow means go fastRed means go very fast."

Imagepimp
Imagepimp

My inner-nerd must interject:

"I watched you very closely. Red light means stop. Green light means go. Yellow light means, go very fast."

Paul
Paul

You are correct ... I was working off of poetic license and a dim memory ...

Of course I will never forget the day when I stopped for a red light and the driver behind me honked their horn and gestured at me that I was #1.

ChrisN
ChrisN

Consider that much of the current population inNorth Texas is from the NorthEast, Cali or Mexico, you have the perfect storm for wreckers and body shops!

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