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Driving in the snow and ice

Posted: February 14, 2014 8:45 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Many people who live in the South -- right here in Kershaw County -- think they’re experts at driving in snow and ice, despite the fact that they virtually never have to do it.

Here’s what those same people actually know about driving in snow and ice: less than nothing.

If you’re smart, then you’ve been hunkering down at home over the last few days, sitting in a warm room, sipping hot chocolate, reading a good book.

If you’re dumb, then you did what I did: you got out in your vehicle and slid around the roads and could easily be dead by now, except for the grace of God and the people who were smart enough to get out of your way.

I hear people say things like this about driving in snow: “You’ve just got to know what you’re doing. If your car starts skidding, you have to steer in the direction you’re skidding, not against that direction.”

Then they nod seriously and knowingly, as if what they just said made sense, even though they only read it somewhere and have no idea what it means.

Those are the same people who scrape off a little peephole about three inches square in the windshield and then drive down the road with their noses pressed up against it so they can see. Sheesh.             

If you’ve always lived in Camden and you tell people you know how to drive in snow and ice, it’s sort of like saying, “I know how to fly the space shuttle. I’ve never done it before, but I know how.”

I have two tips for driving in snow: (1) make sure you have a really old vehicle that already has lots of dents in it, and (2) don’t ever stop at a traffic light, even if it’s stuck on red.

If you’re in a clunker, other idiots who are out driving in the snow will immediately notice you and pull off to the side of the road. They know you are to be feared, because they can plainly see you have a habit of running into things.

And about that traffic light: it has to do with the Pythagorean Snowplow Theorem, which was espoused by both Euclid and Aristotle: the fewer snowplows there are, the less often you should stop at traffic lights.

That’s because when there are no plows -- Camden isn’t exactly loaded with them -- then the road is frozen with ice and if you stop at a traffic light, you will never get going again. You’ll just spin your wheels, and 10 minutes later you’ll be in the exact same place and looking pretty foolish.

Caution: If a police officer stops you after you’ve done that and wants to give you a breathalyzer test, either make up an excuse or admit you’re just a dumb oaf. A <start ital> sober <end ital> dumb oaf.

Old people -- and I am now officially in that category -- have one advantage when it comes to snow driving: we never go faster than 3 miles an hour, which is 2 miles an hour slower than our ordinary speed in sunny conditions.

(Old people have some disadvantages, too, such as not being able to see the road or to hear all those horns blowing behind them. But that’s another matter.)

In any event, I survived the trips from my house to my office in downtown Camden. Each one took about four hours. No pedestrians were killed, primarily because there were no pedestrians outside.

And be sure to remember this when we have our next snowstorm: If you start to skid, turn the wheel towards heaven and start praying really hard.

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