Dear Twin Cities Drivers: Many Of You Suck At Winter Driving

Pet Peeves?  This may be the big one.

I drive the speed limit.  I have a serious distaste for both tickets and legal ambiguities;  the money I’d lose betting whether the cops will give you five or ten miles per hour over the limit is better spent on things I enjoy.

And when the roads are bad – as they have been, more often than not this winter – I have no, zero, nada problem doubling the distance between the car in front of me and driving at a speed where I’m comfortable I’m not going to endanger myself, or others.  And if youare “stuck” behind me, and don’t like it, don’t worry – I won’t be in front of you forever.  And I’m fine with getting there alive a minute later than I’d have arrived otherwise, and if that minute is eating you that bad, then you need to plan better.

Of course, I grew up in a place with real winters – and, may I add, a place where people actually do know how to drive in the winter.

Unlike the Twin Cities.

Naturally, those days when I’m doing 50 in a 55 zone through the blowing snow and one-block visibility, or 35 in an icy 45 watching tow trucks trying to pull cars out of ditches and snow banks on either side of the road, and bearing left and right to avoid the spinouts, there is always some nunb-nuts who will tailgate, or honk, or some moron in an F350 or an oil-belching Volvo crusted with “Obama” stickers, that will take its first opportunity to go sailing past, and crank it up to their normal speed limit plus ten – often with a honk and an obscene gesture (answered with a better one).

It’s stupid.  And if you are the only one that gets hurt, that’s bad enough.

But when your idiot impatient road picque hurts others, especially those whose only “crime” is knowing their limits, then there should be a special spot in heck for you, for you are truly a douchebag.

Kari Pfannenstein says her daughter — a bubbly, eccentric 17-year-old who marches to the beat of her own drum and is a friend to all — is now fighting for her life because drivers pressured her into going too fast on icy roads.

Now, all Pfannenstein can do is hold her daughter’s hand a pray for her to recover from two skull fractures, a lung contusion and other injuries.

“Every time, I say, ‘Drive Safe,’ and she says, ‘I always do,’” Pfannenstein said.

The Dassel-Cokato High School junior was heading to school on Wednesday morning with her friend, Sade Clay, in the seat next to her.

“I never thought this would happen,” Clay said, recounting the crash. “Kristina started sliding and tried to correct herself and slid into the oncoming lane, and our car turned all the way around and a Suburban came — and that’s all I remember.”

I’ve pretty well taught my kids to ignore morons on the road.  That means you.  You know who you are.

30 thoughts on “Dear Twin Cities Drivers: Many Of You Suck At Winter Driving

  1. OMG, Mitch!

    I thought that I was the only one that noticed the numbers of crap ass drivers that have the Obama, Dayton and/or other DFL candidate stickers on their cars as they speed by! Like you, I can only shake my head and think “freaking hypocrites!”

    There is justice sometimes, though! During the Sunday blizzard a couple of weeks ago, I was driving on 494 from EP to Bloomington and some dipstick came flying past me in a Dodge Durango. When you drive the cities as much as I do, you learn the typical actions of morons like him and this one was true to form. About 100 feet ahead of me, he shot across three lanes of traffic to get to the 169 exit, but he didn’t quite make it. Thankfully, the 18 wheeler that he cut in front of, was able to stop without jackknifing and the Durango ended up stuck to the gunnels in the ditch. Fortunately, no one was hurt and he was the only victim of his actions. I hope that he had to get a tow truck to get him out.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me… every time we go a couple of weeks without snow, everyone forgets that it IS possible to drive on snow at more than 3% of the speed limit.

    Then on the other extreme, after a few weeks of sustained snow, you have jonny-teenager driving his front wheel drive chevy 80 in a 60.

    Still…. Not as bad a Boston.

  3. Still… Not as bad as Dallas, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and all other cities that do not see snow/ice on a regular basis.

  4. is now fighting for her life because drivers pressured her into going too fast on icy roads.

    Huh? Somebody “pressured” her into driving fast on icy roads? Somebody else other than her had a foot on the gas pedal?

    Hey, I will pray for Kari and wish her speedy recovery, but that is absolute rubbish. Everybody is responsible for their own actions. Anybody who does not follow common sense and ignores laws of physics deserves a Darwin award.

  5. Huh? Somebody “pressured” her into driving fast on icy roads?

    Tailgating, honking, swerving about – pressure on the roads happens. And while everyone is responsible for their own actions, someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience at driving could very easily make a bad decision; experience helps. So does having parents that tell you “ignore douchebags on the road”.

  6. I occasionally need to remind my wife that just because someone is tailgating or otherwise driving in a stupid way, she does not need to adjust to them.

    I personally respond to tailgaters by slowing down in general–keep in mind that I’m not generally in the left lane, as it’s often faster to be in the middle or right land and driving sanely. So I’m only being rude to those who are acting as if they, and they alone, own the road.

  7. “Of course, I grew up in a place with real winters – and, may I add, a place where people actually do know how to drive in the winter”

    Elitist. The pool of drivers there is probably too small to allow for a noticeable number of roadouchebags. 😉

  8. Agree with you on idiots who don’t know how to drive in the snow. I would bet most of them did not grow up here.

    However, it’s time to put this “real winters” stuff to rest. If you look at the stats, on average Jamestown, ND is marginally colder than Minneapolis, but Minneapolis gets more annual average snowfall. A few tidbits:

    •Minneapolis, MN on average is warmer than Jamestown, ND by 2°F.
    •Both locations share the highest recorded temperature which was 108°F.
    •On average Jamestown, ND is cooler than Minneapolis, MN by 4°F.
    •The lowest temperature, -41°F in Minneapolis, MN, was recorded in 1888.
    •Minneapolis, MN averages more precipitation than Jamestown, ND by 10.9in.

    Another stat is that over the last 55 years Minneapolis has averaged 49.5 inches of snow. Over the last 20 years Jamestown has averaged 35.6 inches. It’s not apples to apples, but no matter where you look you find that on average Minneapolis gets more snow.

  9. Dear Twin Cities Drivers: Many Of You Suck At Winter Driving

    Fixed that for you.

  10. BH429: Every time I see an SUV in the size range of a Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot or larger with an Obama sticker on it, I have to chuckle as I think to myself “The guy YOU voted for would take away your truck and stick you in a Prius in a heartbeat if he could. [sarcasm]Kids? boat? camper? big dogs? business? Tough shit. The environment is FAR more important than your misguided (at best) life. [/sarcasm]”

  11. Chad, I think that some of those awful drivers did grow up here–my favorite pet peeve about Twin Cities drivers is what I’d call the “Minnesota meander,” where the driver just kinda….ambles….into the right lane while merging without really making any effort to speed up to the speed of traffic.

    And I’m trying to figure out (bullets 1 and 3) how Jamestown can be both 2F, and 4F, cooler than Minneapolis. Hopefully a Rosemount instrument has better accuracy than that! :^)

  12. Bill C;

    Agreed. I have had those thoughts about and arguments with those elitists. The best examples by far are the black men driving Hummers and Escalades.

    I’ve pointed this out before, so pardon my redundancy. This is akin to a left nut driving a Japanese car with a Save the Whales and/or a Greenpeace sticker on it. Obviously, they don’t realize that by purchasing that car, they are supporting a country that is responsible for more whaling than any other. In fact, there may be some parts on their cars that may have a lubricant derived from whale oil on it. The classic is that at the end of one of those propaganda episodes of Whale Wars, three of the crew members of the boat get into their Hondas and drive off!

  13. “However, it’s time to put this “real winters” stuff to rest.”

    Look up Tower, MN and then we shall start talking about “real winters”.

    -60°F in 1996

  14. Allow me to argue another side of this.

    A couple weeks ago, we had a day that was nearly 50 degress (ah…didn’t that feel good?). It was foggy. Pretty foggy. I was driving to a funeral on State Highway 55 between Rockford and Buffalo. If you know the road, its busy.

    The roads were dap, but not icy or slippery at all. It was foggy, but definately safe enough to drive 55. All of a sudden, in the middle of a 55 zone, I run up on a line of traffic running at about 25 miles an hour.

    Now I don’t mind people driving safe, but if a little fog (or a low sun, or a breeze, or whatever non-perfect condition exists) means you slam on the brakes and drive as if one move will land your car spinning into the ditch….YOU BETTER GET THE HELL OFF THE ROAD.

    I’m sorry, and people might disagree with me, but overly slow drivers are JUST as bad as the speed demons.

  15. Now, sort of along the same line- “Dear Twin Cities/ Minnesota drivers: Many of you suck because you don’t know how to make left-hand turns.” This is a public-service announcement to speed up the flow of traffic.

  16. I’m old enough to have learned how to drive in the winter in a nice heavy piece of Detroit iron (’76 Mercury Marquis) with rear wheel drive, squishy steering and no ABS. You learned how to go slow, give lots of distance and do killer do-nuts. Last fall I traded in my 4WD SUV for a FWD sedan. I miss keeping the SUV in 2WD and having my kids freak out as I powerslide around corners in the neighborhood.
    I’ve driven all over the US and Canada in snowy weather and have concluded, not many know how to drive in snow. One of my roomates claimed that where he was from, Buffalo, everyone knew how to drive in snow. Wrong. NY, NJ, Chicago, Bismarck, St. Paul – everywhere I’ve ever been the first big snow brings LOTS of accidents and people driving too fast for conditions. I’ll forgive an Alabaman or Georgian for not knowing how to handle driving in the snow. But when a MinnDakian can’t handle it? Well let’s just say I’m disappointed.

  17. Bubbasan-

    I’m not saying that Minnesota drivers are necessarily all that good in general, but those that grew up here (or anywhere in the Upper Midwest) at least know how to drive in snow and don’t do the things that Mitch mentioned.

    I was confused by the cold and warm differences too and then I realized it’s the average daily high and low temps. So on average the high in MPLS is 2 degrees warmer and the low in Jamestown is 4 degrees cooler.

  18. Let me take a stab at this as well: “Dear Twin Cities/ Minnesota drivers: Many of you suck because you don’t know how to merge.”

  19. As someone who got a warning (no ticket) for going 5 miles over the limit the other week, I think the police should be assertive with speeders — and downright brutal to tailgaters. The left lane is not your personal speedway, and if the person is going the speed limit, deal. If they’re passing people but not as fast as you’d like, seek therapy.

    And yes, someone going 30 in a 60 during a light snow is almost as bad. That’s no excuse to pass on the #$%@ shoulder or flashing your high beams at someone.

  20. and if the person is going the speed limit, deal.

    Not everyone drives an ox-cart. And it is not a left lane, it is a PASSING lane. Got that? P A S S I N G.

    Contrary to what seems to be YOUR belief – driving is NOT an entitlement, but a privilege.

    Learn to drive, or get off the road!

    Speed does NOT kill – it is the idiot with hands on the steering wheel and foot on the gas (or brake or clutch) pedal who does not know how to drive. Next thing we know, you will be saying it is guns that kill people. Geez.

  21. JPA, the speed limits do apply even in the left lane–while it ought to be a passing lane, we really ought not encourage the catfights that go on between people who camp there, and people who believe it is their God-given right to go 85 in a 55 zone, no?

    And along those lines, speed can kill–not nearly as much as drunkenness or tiredness, but it does. Every driver, and every car, has a specific amount of time needed to respond to a road hazard, and when you go to fast, you simply can’t see the hazard in time to avoid it. OK, I don’t think that speed is necessarily 55 mph near North Platte, NE, as Gerry Ford told us, but neither is it appropriate to go 100.

  22. but neither is it appropriate to go 100.

    Who says? You? On what authority? Nanny state? Hypocrites all!

    I will repeat for the challenged – speed kills just as much as the loaded gun. You cannot defend one right and not the other.

    And note, nowhere did I say or advocate unsafe or dangerous driving. But if my car can do 180+mph, is well maintained and I am a confident driver, and find myself on that deserted stretch of road near North Platte, NE, I do not need bubba to tell me how many horses under my hood I can exercise.

  23. JPA,

    I’m with you on that last graf, more or less, in principle.

    But I think we can agree that someone who is swerving about on the ice at 60mph in such a way as to intimidate other drivers is *not* being a responsble driver.

  24. JPA is right. “Slower traffic keep right.” It’s a relative term, and for a reason. It has really nothing to do with the speed limit. If you’re doing 30 and the guy behind you wants to do 40, pull over to the right. If you’re doing 90 and the guy behind you wants to do 100, pull over to the right.

  25. But I think we can agree that someone who is swerving about on the ice at 60mph in such a way as to intimidate other drivers is *not* being a responsble driver.

    We are in violent agreement.

  26. No, If I’m going 90 and passing people who are on the right and you want to go 100, chill. Same if I’m going 70 in a 70 and passing people — it happens all of the time on rural interstates and surprisingly a lot in the metro. It’s not playing cop (the argument of all drivers stuck behind someone), it’s driving. Not every one in front of you has an obligation to get off the road because you exist behind them.

  27. All we are asking for you and your ilk to do is to move to the right after you complete your pass. Is that so hard to do? Anythign else, and you prove yourself to be a arrogant, disrespectful self-serving prick!

  28. So Mr. Poe, you think it would be better if we passed on the left sometimes, and at other times on the right? “Not everyone in front of you has the obligation to get off the road because you exist behind them.” Really? Then explain “keep right except to pass”, and “slower traffic keep right”. Do you see any mention of any specific speed in there? I don’t. The bottom line is that most of the country drives with slower traffic moving to the right to allow people on the left to pass. Even without traffic laws, people after a while would figure out that the best way to get from point A to B would be to have the faster traffic pass all the time in only one lane- except here, of course. Oh, and one more thing- this from the Minnesota Driver’s Manual: “If you’re driving at a slower speed than other traffic, stay in the lane nearest to the right side of the road.” Any questions?

  29. Mitch, I was with you until this line:

    “is now fighting for her life because drivers pressured her into going too fast on icy roads.”

    Repeat after me:

    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”
    “Everyone is responsible for their own actions”

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