by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires
On Tuesday morning I headed to Lewiston, bringing my big white goofy dog to the vet clinic for another round of chemotherapy. We’re doing some extra rounds, because there’s really not much published research out there that covers whether more than four rounds is effective. But, thankfully, he’s handled the treatments like a champ, his blood work has come back great every time, and he hasn’t gotten sick. Why not do a few more rounds, and hope that it does prove more effective? That is what we’re hoping.
But Tuesday morning was not a very good time to drive to Lewiston. The snow was just wet enough, it was just cold enough, and that stretch of Highway 14 is just crazy enough for it to be a pretty harrowing journey, to say the least. Thankfully, we made it there and I got back to work safely, though it took quite awhile. (I have yet to return to pick him up after work, so here’s to hoping my second trip is as safe as the first!)
Driving through that kind of snowy conditions always makes me think about safe driving practices. I have all-wheel drive, and I feel very fortunate for that, but as a teenager and young adult, I rarely had a vehicle one would choose to head out on the snowy highway with. Figuring out how to work with an inferior car in Minnesota as a young person teaches you quite a bit about being safe on the road.
The thing that irks me is how often I see other, full-grown, competent adults riding around in their vehicles, often with kids in tow learning by example, as though cars and trucks were fun toys we use to hurl ourselves from point a to b. Vehicles are not toys, and the stuff you learned in driver’s ed classes are not rules that only wieners like me use. They are the rules that you need to follow to keep yourself and your loved ones, and precious strangers who share the road with you, safe. And just because you’ve ignored a lot of them your whole life and survived doesn’t discount how important they are. (If you are still reading, you’re not likely one of the common offenders out there, but please, please, share some of these messages with the people in your life who need to hear them. You may well be saving their lives.)
The number-one frightening thing I see people do most frequently is driving too close to the vehicle in front of them. And since I do a lot of highway driving, we’re not talking about 30 mph here. I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a fatal accident on I-90 where a small car was tailgating a semi and ended up flattened underneath it, utterly destroyed. All these accidents and deaths can be prevented by simply following the rules. Drivers need to be several car lengths away from the car ahead when on the highway — it’s called the three-second rule, which you can figure out by timing when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object. You shouldn’t pass that object for three, full seconds. If you think that driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you will get them to speed up or move to a different lane, you are putting yourself, and everyone around you, at great risk. What if a deer jumps out and they slam on their brakes? What if they slip on the ice? What if they simply don’t see you and slow down suddenly? You don’t want to know the answer to these questions.
Of course, that person could also be me. And you know what? I am that mean, safe driver who experiences a mixture of anger and concern when you drive too closely behind me. I slow down. I make you angry. But, I hope, I also get you to think a little bit about driving too closely behind me and others, because it may well save your life.