The road beneath our feet

It is human nature to react more to the obvious than to that which is subtle. In some situations this can be a person’s undoing, as in the case of winter driving.

  • Jan. 31, 2011 10:00 a.m.

It is human nature to react more to the obvious than to that which is subtle. In some situations this can be a person’s undoing, as in the case of winter driving.

When a motorist sees a blizzard outside and they know there’s snow and ice on the road and limited visibility, they will usually prepare themselves to drive accordingly and cautiously. If that same motorist looks outside and sees a small amount of snow on the ground but the snow has stopped, the visibility is good and the roadway looks un-compromised, they may assume that the roadway is fine and will drive it as such.

That motorist may learn, the hard way, that the snow on the still frozen roadway has been compressed into ice which cannot been seen, and the road surface is slick. With no prior adjustment in their driving behaviour, the motorist is at the mercy of the icy surface and will find it very unforgiving when they try to stop or corner at a speed that physics cannot accommodate.

There will always be circumstances that occur that are beyond anyone’s ability to control. Adjusting driving behaviours, however, can mitigate these circumstances so that tragic outcomes become more seldom rather than frequent.

Motorists should assume that winter roads will always be icy and slick, and should drive with this in mind. To drive otherwise may bring about a consequence that is, at best, alarming and at worst, fatal.