The Idiot Squad

December 06, 2007

Today marked the start of the 2007-2008 Car Hockey Season here in Kansas City. Freezing rain followed by a few inches of snow fall start this morning. By the time I left work at two o'clock, the roads were slick if not icy. Most people on the highway were driving a cautious 25 or 30 miles per hour. Not members of the Idiot Squad.

The Idiot Squad are all driving 4x4s or SUVs. (NB: Not all owners of urban Panzers are members of the Idiot Squad, and there are a few dunderheads in regular cars too.) What the pilots of these behemoth vehicles seems to have forgotten is that no matter how fancy their anti-skid, variable-assist-traction-controlled, anti-lock brake systems are, there is a finite limit to their adhesion on the road.

Sure, four-wheel drive gets you going faster than two. And being higher than most vehicles gets you about the spray of semi-frozen slush being tossed out from under neighboring cars tires. So you drive faster, slaloming through traffic with imagined impunity.

Until you need to stop, that is.

Then you discover, too late, that once you exceed the amount of traction you vehicle has, nothing in the world will stop you. Except other cars, the cement barrier in between you and on coming traffic, or the ditch off to the side of the road.

The only accident I saw on my commute home today was a large 4x4 pickup that lost traction and t-boned the center divider.

Do the rest of us a favor and slow down.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.