37. About drivers and roads

I continue to learn local traffic and roads. I am no longer amazed by elder ladies driving huge pick-up trucks, no longer turn my head when I see Lamborghini. But still some situations make me raise my eyebrows.

I consider myself as a good driver. I had a luck of learning to drive from my dad, professional driver with over 40 years of experience. It was a school of hard knocks, I must say. For me the most important on the road is being safe, and letting others get to their destination safely. I am a bit old-fashioned, but  i still think that driving a car properly is a skill. For me driving a car is not just getting from point A to point B.

When I was returning to Canada from New Jersey, I had experienced some of the most challenging driving conditions – freezing rain. When I departed, it was +7 C and heavy rain. I am now used to the fact that almost everyone is speeding. But in a downpour you cannot just continue driving as if it was a sunny summer day. Visibility is low, traction is bad. But most of NJ and NY drivers on a highway were still going way over speed limit.

Heavy rain in New Jersey

The further I moved North – the lower temperature was dropping. At some point it was -2..-4 C, and still rain! I stopped on a rest area, and guess what! It was an ice rink. And the front of my car was covered in ice. Ok, the road itself was still much better, but most of drivers were still driving in summer speeds! No surprise that I have seen cars and trucks in a ditch every 10 minutes.

Rest area is a mix of ice, show and water
Front of my car was covered with ice. That what happens when it is freezing rain outside. Same happens to road surface, but many don’t realize  it in time.

Next, some snow started accumulating on a road surface. Still same thing in driver’s heads.

Further north, the road became really snowy. The right lane had good tracks, wet and dry asphalt, the left was covered in ice and snow. And now I had the biggest surprise. Most of the cars on a road could have been divided into two categories – slow steamers and pilots. Slow steamers were doing 40-50 km/h. On an interstate! Pilots were still doing 120-130 km/h. Crazy people. Both categories.

The road was like this for most of the time. Tracks of moderately wet asphalt on right lane, ice covered with show in left lane.

As I discovered later, winter tires are not obligation in US. So when most of drivers realized that there is snow and ice on the road, they started crawling. I have two questions to them. First – why did you still run like hell when it was already -2 and quite slippery, but no visible snow on the road surface. Second – what the f are you doing on a road at all? Is it difficult to check weather forecast before you leave? You never never ever drive on snow or ice on summer tires.

For the pilots I have no questions at all. I guess they were asking questions themselves. They had a lot of time to think while being in a ditch.

Traffic jam due to another truck in a ditch and his cargo on a road

Just a few illustrations.

I was driving on empty road at healthy 80-90 km/h (remember, we have winter tires in Canada!), when I have seen a group of slow steamers. Trucks, SUVs, passenger cars driving at 40 km/h in a right lane, about 30-40 of them. At first I started following them, I thought there was a snow plow or police car in front, but then I realized there were none. I started cautiously overtaking them on a left, icy and snowy lane, at about 55 km/h. In front of a “convoy” there was a young girl in a Mini who looked scared to death.

Then a lonely Subaru Outback doing 50 km/h… Facepalm. I guess the guy did now know what letters AWD at the back of his car mean.

Then another convoy, this time with Mercedes GL in front. Thy guy was driving 40 km/h with flashers on, and braked to 20 km/h before a slight curve. The rear car almost smashed into him! The funniest part, is that the guy had ski in roof! Did he expect to get to ski resort without snow? Or what? I cannot understand this logic – driving to a ski resort on summer tires.

Or a guy in a Chevrolet Cruze doing safe 80 km/h, I had a pleasure following him. He was doing OK, until he have seen a snow plow in a left lane. He was in a right. Right lane was completely clear and free! It took the guy about 5 minutes to take all his courage and drive past (not even overtake) the plow that was doing 50 km/h.

This guy was following slow plow for over 5 minutes, however his lane was completely free!

There were more unpleasant individuals, like a pair or SUVs driving slowly, then accelerating when they have seen a fast-approaching small Hyundai in their left mirrors. I was very close to losing control of my car, I could not overtake them at first few attempts, they just did not let me. They increased their speed when I tried to overtake them, then when I felt it was no longer safe, I gave up, slowed down and returned to a right lane. Guess what they did? They slowed down too! And I tried again – they did the same. It was happening  for several minutes until I had some  nice dry section of left lane and floored the pedal to the metal.

There were other cars on a left lane of course, many of them were overtaking me. Most of them had Canadian plates.

Another idiotic thing – a snow on cars. I have noticed that a lot of people are too freaking lazy to clear anything more then a windshield. And guess what happens to a pile of snow on a roof at 100 km/h? It is blown away in big hard chunks, right into guys who drive behind. I had few emergency brakings and maneuvers in order to avoid such projectiles.

Please don’t get me wrong,  I don’t want people to drive fast in bad weather condition. I want them to use their heads when on the road and don’t be stupid dummies who just press a pedal and turn the wheel. I want them to stay home if they and their car is not ready for the weather or they don’t have appropriate skills. It is not worth creating danger for themselves and risk to others.

Approaching Montreal in heavy snow and wind. Note that that black thing on a road is not an asphalt, it is almost pure ice.

Stay safe on a road!

P.S. There is no such thing as all-season tires. You don’t wear same shoes in +40 and -30. You just don’t.


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