Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety First! . . . Again

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If you’ve ever wondered why it was so easy to get so many people to Stay Home – and “mask up” – when ordered to by government Safety Nannies, go for a drive and see for yourself. How many people do you see who Drive Scared – especially if it’s raining even a little bit?

And forget about it, if it looks like it might snow.

If so, hyper-caution manifests. Drivers that were afraid to drive the speed limit when it was dry and sunny reduce their speed by ten – sometimes 20 miles-per-hour. The slower, the safer.

Sometimes, they even put on their blinkers.

The irony is many of these “safe” drivers are driving vehicles specifically made to be safer to drive in wet and – gasp! – snowy conditions. SUVs and trucks with four-wheel-drive. Crossovers – which is pretty much all that’s left that aren’t trucks and SUVs – almost always have all-wheel-drive. If they do not, they almost always are front-wheel-drive. This makes them easier-to-drive in slippery conditions than the mostly (almost exclusively) rear-drive cars that used to account for something like 80 percent of the cars on the road circa 1995 and prior – before there was any such thing as a “crossover,” “SUVs” were 4x4s like the old Ford Bronco and trucks were exactly that and driven by people who usually knew how to drive them.

They did not Drive Scared, as so many do today – in vehicles that are so much safer to drive at much higher speeds, because they have more grip and much less slip. Modern vehicles are much more controllable and with far less effort. Yet they are driven as if they had less grip, were borderline uncontrollable.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it a little. Before cars were safer, drivers had to be better. There weren’t any electronic-assist get-out-of-the-ditch-free cards. If you had to drive in the rain and snow, you had to know how to drive in the rain and snow. If not, you knew to stay home.

Since most people had to get to work and do other necessary things they couldn’t do without driving, they learned how to drive – because they had to. It was an on-the-road elaboration of the Nietzschean dictum about that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

Having had to learn and so know how to drive resulted in more confident drivers. If you knew you could handle a little rain – and maybe a lot of snow – in a rear-drive car without any kind of “assistance technology,” you didn’t Drive Scared when it was clear and dry.

The reverse of Nietzsche’s dictum is in force today.

Vehicles are now much safer – and the average driver, far worse. It makes sense, doesn’t it? How well would any of us be walking now if our parents had “kept us safe” by preventing us from learning how? Toddlers are unsteady, at first. They almost always fall down. But – encouraged to keep on trying to walk – they quickly get their bearings and do it effortlessly and are toddlers no more.

It would be taken as silly – as insulting – to tell a child who can walk that he must wear one of those rigs used to help toddlers toddle without toppling over. But then, the child who has mastered walking is aware that he doesn’t need help to walk. Is confident in his walking. He cannot be returned to toddlerhood.

He can, however, be kept there – by parents who don’t want him to learn how to walk.

Such “parents” have done a capital job of keeping cohorts of drivers in a kind of toddlerhood behind the wheel. They have done so via the genius trick of “keeping them safe” – via cars and “technology” that encourage them to leave the driving to the car – and “technology.” Thus, they never learn how to drive, except in the most elementary sense – that of pushing a button to start the car and pushing down (ever-so-gingerly) on the accelerator pedal. Even braking is being done for them now.

Steering, too.

Leaven in a steady background hum of injunctions about “safe” driving – the latter form of the word always being synonymous with hyper-caution and passivity. The message is that anything that isn’t hyper-cautious and passive isn’t “safe.”

Result? Many are understandably afraid of driving – especially of conditions are anything less than ideal.

And so they Drive Scared.

Is it any wonder that such people were afraid to go outside when they were told it wasn’t “safe” to do so? That they had better wear a “mask” before doing so? That they had better get a Jab, too?

Ideas have consequences. So also training – and conditioning. If people are trained to be afraid, they will be.

Whether of a “virus” – or a little rain.

. . .

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45 COMMENTS

  1. Yesterday, I drove in the rain. Just rain, not a downpour, not a stormy night, just rain.

    You can’t begin to imagine all the slowmo’s cruising in the left lane, getting indignant and giving a 1 finger salute when ya flash em to move over to the right.
    Sorry Karen, its not bad enough to justify you going the speed limit in the passing lane in your Nissan Moronic or Rogue, move bitch, get out the way!

    Hell, my Bronco will slide in turns when it rains even in 4 auto, doesn’t deter me from just driving. Too many people drive boring cars which make it a chore which lead to them dazed at the wheel, simple as that.

  2. Another indication of an aging population. They’re dealing with their body degrading and proably don’t want to admit they need to adjust their lifestyle to match their capabilities. Instead, they demand more safety features be added to their vehicles, demand the roads be kept clear to a higher standard than before, and demand you adjust your driving to their ability.

    And who’s going to complain? Cost/benefit analysis is always “Well, if it saves just one life” or other claptrap that ends any debate. Like every life has infinite value (except for the unborn, because they really do have infinite potential). One little piece of wisdom I’ve acquired is that most people’s lives aren’t really worth that much in the big picture, espeically as that unrealized potential hits the middle aged reality of “this is the best you’re going to do.” Besides, once the US government goes total Stalin we’ll just see how valuable we all are…

  3. Here in the Pacific NW when it snows for the one week of the year, all the schools close down and drivers crawl along or smash into any fixed object. This article is so bang-on.

    The worst are the Volvo drivers. As an exclusive motorcycle rider (yes, even in snow) those saaaafty worshipers are the worst.

    • Hi Rodrigo,

      In my area, at the first hint that it might snow, the county sends out these brine trucks that spray down every road with a liquid salt slurry guaranteed to accelerate the rusting of your car’s undercarriage. Mind, this is done when it doesn’t snow. Because it might.

      • Eric,
        the brine spray pisses me off to no end.

        It doesn’t seem to work, except as far as when the snow turns to slush, to provide a layer of corrosion applied directly to the cars.

        I go to the car was every day to spray it off.

        • Dan, a car wash isn’t going to do much, except maybe make you feel better. I got a new truck and planned on keeping it longer than usual, and religiously washed it, and sprayed everything underneath for a whole winter. Didn’t matter. Was working on it in the spring and when I put the bolts in my mouth to hold them, they tasted like salt.
          I’m sure the washing, washes the salt off surfaces, but the salt gets deep down.

      • I remember this year, when the trucks were salting, you either got sprayed or stayed behind… except me

        I drove on the grass to pass and was the only vehicle on the road without my door getting a fresh coat of salt 🙂

  4. Just the opposite here in Kentucci(KY)- Being originally from Jew York, it never bothered me to drive in the snow- but living here in KY now, I avoid driving in the snow because the locals don’t seem to have the sense to slow down at all! Get an inch of snow and there are accidents all over the place.

    Narrow country roads with no shoulder, and hills and twists and turns….very little margin for error….and no one slows down a hair when the roads are slick.

  5. I find that my biggest challenge in life these days is just trying to avoid all of the morons that get in my way. The vast majority of people seem to be in a near zombie state.

    There was a time in my life when I was impressed with the complex hustle and bustle of society. Not so much in the past 10 years or so.

  6. The short dry season in Western WA will end soon, wet till next July. The mayhem over that side of the state is amazing! Occasional snow especially an afternoon on a work day you might as well just leave the car at work and get a room for the night. I was lucky I could use vacation in hour increments, first flakes I bailed for my 30 mile drive home in front of the pack. Sporty snow driving in a 79 Pontiac non-posi rear axle.

    The other morons here run the pass in the snow, convinced the “traction control” makes them invincible. Their carelessness = best case just them in the ditch, worst case they spin out and take other cars or semi’s with them. Then the pass is closed for hours while the carnage is removed.

    • You’re right Sparkey, almost not worth going over the mountains near metro areas anymore during snow events. Seems like I’m getting stuck for hours more and more. It used to be, if snow was coming, I would enjoy less traffic, now I have gotten stuck more than ever.
      The Seattle area seems to be worse than most, going over the Cascades. Guessing the city folks never experience driving in snow, and all it takes in 1 of the masses. Don’t think it’s ever going to get better.
      But I will add that in places like Montana, where the cities do get snow, the results are far better over the mountains there.

    • Hi X,
      I saw that too, I think it’s set to become law for the EU in a couple years. So probably coming to the USSA shortly thereafter 😡.

  7. I still blame most of this on the God forsaken autotragic transmission. Back in the late 70s when I started driving a lot of shit boxes and econo cars and trucks still had 3 pedals. And you very seldom came across anyone who could not drive stick…..It just makes better drivers.

    • I’ll never go back to Auto, there’s no joy or pleasure in it, makes Driving a chore.

      I don’t drag race, I don’t drive in the city daily, I actually love cars, so why would I get an Auto.

      When I have kids, gonna find a manual SUV from the 80s/90s and lightly modernize it (Tires/Brakes/Engine work/Trans work)

  8. Brilliant: “Before cars were safer, drivers had to be better.”
    I enjoy snow and driving in snow. It used to be fun for me. Now, even a dusting of snow makes the majority do what you say, and it drives me crazy.
    I think I know what they think ‘I have AWD/ABS, etc.. now, so I am safe(r)’.
    It has gotten so bad, that I now avoid driving in the snow during rush hour, period. I wait them out, cause after rush hour in my metro area, they are all gone. I can then enjoy the drive home and have a little fun. I even go out later at night sometimes to enjoy driving in the snow.
    The blinker on thing is literally comical and very sad. The one’s that do it on the interstate doing 30-40mph are way more dangerous, and there are more of them now. They have no idea that in reduced visibility snow-downpour that they are probably going to get rear ended at speed and cause a very big wreck, if not injury/death (semi-truck against the snowflake’s tiny car)

    • When I was younger, always though AWD or bust.

      Getting an Audi stuck in the snow and driving my Mustang up and down an iced up hill taught me otherwise, I mentioned here: https://www.ericpetersautos.com/2019/08/07/reader-question-thoughts-on-awd/

      Tires, Tires, Tires. I mean, having snow tires on your high clearance awd suv is gonna do better in deep snow than a rwd coupe, but when it’s just snow, and it’s not piled high, that’s a different story all together.

      Also like ya suggested, gonna leave later, as I remember the conga line going back home, and how all ya needed was someone slippin’n’sliding into you. That and the Backroads, now to just find some winter tires as well

  9. In or about the 80s, the minivan just made driving that much more complicated. Lee Iacoca’s suburban hotrod shouted “I’m gonna pull out in front of you and go half the speed limit”. Oh the decades I loathed minivans…

    …until I got one as a rental a few years ago. No, I didn’t pull out in front of anyone and go half the speed limit. It was smooth, comfortable, convenient, but woefully underpowered for its size.

  10. I remember someone (maybe on this blog) discussing how the safer the world gets, the more aware people become of danger. Almost as if they are seeking out anything, anything at all to be scared of. How many paratroopers or Ironworkers do you know that are scared to drive in the snow? How do you get proficient at something without ever facing it. The mindset of these generations of de-clawed indoor cats comes from the fact that have been in so few actually dangerous situationsn and worked theough it they have no idea what it is like to overcome danger or fear.
    I hear newscasters talk about (heat advisories) stay home don’t leave the AC unless you have too! Remembering my youth in the Nevada desert where very few people had ac this was in the early-mid eighties. We drank more water, went swimming, found shade when possible, you know normal mitigation of harsh weather. Now the answer is “stay home.” Three inches of snow will shut now down an interstate 4wd’s or not. Peoples lives are lived through the non reality of a screen more and more.

  11. I have a saying around here – Fridays are prone to accidents, if a holiday Friday or rain, I can count on being severely delayed due to accidents. People just can’t drive, as Eric stated.

    Couple weeks ago, rain on the highway. It was pretty good rain, but not to the point that called for going 45mph w/ flashers on. Though I did see one car overturned on the side of the road.

    When I was stationed in VA, out in the country, it snowed once. 3 inches. I get people down there just don’t get to drive in the snow, but as I tooled around in my 76 Malibu (all season tires, no chains), I was surprised to see so many cars in the ditch.

    All us “snow drivers” were out searching for parking lots to do doughnuts in. Which I will say probably teaches one how to control a car better than any other driving practice.

    • > All us “snow drivers” were out searching for parking lots to do doughnuts in.

      My first year of college was in Illinois. Dad accompanied me on the cross-country drive, and before he left, he told me to seek out an empty parking lot at the first heavy snow to learn how my car (an ’80 Chevette, with power nothing and four on the floor) would handle in it: get up to speed and slam the brakes, get up to speed and turn, do donuts, etc. At that point, I’d had minimal snow-driving experience from a winter camping trip up Mt. Charleston with my Boy Scout troop.

      It didn’t take long to get up to speed. One thing I learned was that when it was really cold, the gearshift acted like the other end was in a tub of molasses for the first few minutes of a drive.

  12. Most of the two lane blacktop around here have banked curves. Usually banked to get zero lateral Gs at about 30 MPH. On a snowy road, how many times have I come across a very likely AWD crossover or SUV that has slid off the inside of the curve because they were going TOO SLOW. While I drove past them in my Miata. Which is far from a snow mobile. At 30 MPH.
    As I think I mentioned here recently, many people appear to be afraid of their vehicles. And rightly they should be, since they never bothered to master them. They aren’t sure what they’re doing, or even what they want to do.

  13. I’ve got a friend whose daughter moved out and is in a relationship but the mom still drives her to work and takes her dogs home to watch them. If that wasn’t bad enough the dogs are not house broken. How’s that for encouraging the kid to never grow up?

    As for driving/ riding I’ve been in everything from hail, snow, white outs, torrential rain you name it and never had an accident. On the other hand going down the interstate sideways when I hit a patch of black ice was an interesting experience, luckily I got the car straightened out before I hit the dry pavement again. I’m hoping I don’t have that happen again though.

    As that old saying goes: “Experience gained is in direct proportion to the amount of equipment ruined” which as far as vehicles go is that everyone’s first vehicle should be a beater and if you don’t destroy it in a couple years buy a better one.

    • Thats for sure. My first car in 1976 was an old “65 Ford Custom. Huge car. Looked like a Galaxy. My parents told me not to worry if it got dented. Well good cause dented it right away trying to parallel park then proceeded to generally thrash it. But did not kill it. My younger brother got it worked on it fixed it up and drove it for a few more years!

    • Landru, ‘going sideways’ happened to me too at 60mph. I wasn’t driving, was sleeping in the back of the van on a long roadtrip. He hit ice over a long bridge near NC? on I-95, where I’m guessing they don’t normally deal with winter, and I woke up, look out the windshield and didn’t see the road going by normally, oooo ohhh. Buddy did a good job getting it back pointing straight before we hit the non-ice or worse, going off the bridge. He was not a known ‘good’ driver, so my guess was he just let off the gas, and since our van was a RWD, it’s slight braking force self corrected our slide? FWD vehicles would go backwards.

  14. On a side note, I recently took a trip from S/E Pennsylvania to Myrtle Beach.
    I noticed quite bizarre driving on I-95…whatever happened to the practical rule of KEEP RIGHT, PASS LEFT? Throughout the trip, sluggish people in the right lane, sluggish people in the middle lanes, and…sluggish people in the LEFT LANE.
    Actually, I don’t even see the “KEEP RIGHT, PASS LEFT” signs on highway any longer.

    When was the last time a sluggish driver in the left lane was pulled over by the cops?

    It’s controlled anarchy on the highway today.
    Quite bizarre.
    The Trump Jabs have exponentially increased the driving incompetence.

    • Side note to the side note:

      I observed numerous human whales on the beach, both young and old; it amazes me how obese we, as a society, have become.

      Supersize it…er, ah…maybe not!

      • Reply to FrankieTooz:

        True, but as people become larger the automobile has become smaller, maybe that’s why everyone is driving trucks or SUVs now.

    • Frankie,
      I’m not sure if it’s a jab effect, or the adoption of constant fear that caused people to take one. A fear they carry with them when they drive. Life is occasionally scary. If you live your life constantly fearing, it’s really scary.
      Can’t attribute the quote, but something like, “Life is a tedious bore, interrupted by brief moments of joy and terror.” If you embrace fear full time, it’s hardly worth the effort.

    • Hi Frankie,

      Me also. Per the movie… see “vaccinated” people… they’re everywhere! And it is making driving as much fun as queuing up in line at the DMV.

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