Idiots, Mobile Phones and Snow-Covered Roads

Idiot!

Just got back from dropping son#2 off at work. It’s Saturday morning. We had 15 cm of light snow yesterday.

Some new-fallen snow on a cold Saturday morning

Some new-fallen snow on a cold Saturday morning

The temperature is -12. It’s actually a beautiful morning except for the snow that is still clinging stubbornly to the road.

20130119_094139

It’s -12 so salt does nothing. The sun will eventually do the job, though.

At this temperature salt is useless to we just have to wait until the winter sun does its thing. In the meantime we just drive defensively: slow down, keep a decent distance from the next vehicle and, most of all, keep an ‘extra eye out.’

The snow had to be brushed off the van and the windshield was particularly difficult to clear off. The half-melted snow from the night before had frozen on and the resultant ice-layer on the windshield was almost  a part of the glass. It took a vigorous scrape to get it off! The snow was light, though and easy to shovel. We got underway–a short pleasant drive ahead.

Then along came ‘buddy.’

It was no trouble to see him approach in the rear view. The speed limit along that stretch of road is 50 and, given the conditions, the van was doing slightly less—around 45 or so. He was doing a fair bit more—around 70-80 would be a fair estimate. He was a porthole driver. You know the kind–too lazy to properly clear the windows–just cleared enough to see out of on the front, and left the rear defrost to do the back. I was in the inside lane and he was in the curb lane. When he drew abreast of me he had to slow down because of the traffic ahead.

He nailed the brakes and his vehicle fishtailed a bit. Luckily I was able to move to the centre (turning) lane as there was no oncoming traffic. He eventually got the thing back under control and I was able to get back in my lane, now driving side by side with him.

I looked over. Maybe to see if he was alright, but mostly to get a look at the dumb-ass who almost sideswiped me/rear ended the car in front of him.

Guess what?

He was looking down at the steering wheel; not at the road. And what was so interesting about that steering wheel that diverted his eyes away from the snow covered road and the traffic? A stupid mobile ‘phone, that’s what! Texting away. No situational awareness whatsoever. For all he knew he was at home on the couch. Too bad he wasn’t.

We came to a traffic light and stopped. The texting became more intense. Of course there was the odd furtive look up. You know how those idiots do it. 5-6 seconds looking at the phone and about .5 seconds (not an exaggeration) looking up, not around, just up. Just seeing if the thing is still more-or-less on the road and not much of a care of where the vehicle is in relation to everyone else.

The light turned green we all moved away. Except him, of course. He had no idea until his 5-6 seconds were up. Eventually he did too and soon caught up with me again. Great—boxed in by the ‘situationally unaware’ king of texting driving a 3 tonne SUV.

He started drifting toward me. I sounded the horn. No effect. I moved back to the centre lane—luckily at 9 AM on Saturday there is very little westbound traffic on Kenmount Road. Eventually he drifted back in.

I’d had enough. I looked for an opening and got myself away from him. Son #2 looked back and said, “He’s still texting.”

Idiot.

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About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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33 Responses to Idiots, Mobile Phones and Snow-Covered Roads

  1. Mjollnir says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the planet’s only idiot magnet!

    • LOL! By the way, here’s two Norway-connected stories. 1–It seems we have mistakenly put the image of a Norwegian maple on our brand-new $20 (Cdn) bill instead of the Canadian Maple and (2) I noticed that the 200 Krone bill includes a partial map of Canada! Are our two countries about to combine? Sounds to me like something that would work :>) All of us ‘northerners’ have a lot in common regardless of which ‘country’ we belong to, it seems…

  2. Martin says:

    enjoyed your post Maurice. Those people on cell phones drive me nuts. We just had an elderly man knocked down, while he was on the crosswalk, because a young woman was texting and didn’t see him. Luckily he survived. She is now facing criminal charges. Good to see the snow is going…slowly.

    • In the end, what makes the big difference is public opinion. Police can’t stop this because it’s too widespread. Likewise, those fools won’t stop as they don’t see a problem. Once friends and family as well as the public at large start pressuring them they will have to stop.

  3. i hope the idiot only hurts HIMSELF on the day he’s not as lucky as this time.

  4. Glad you stayed safe, at least. Is it not illegal to use a mobile phone while driving over there? On the spot fines and license points over here. Still happens, but less frequently nowadays.

    • My province, Newfoundland Labrador, was among the first to make the use of mobiles illegal. The thing is, though, that we are a very peaceful place and our level of policing is not as high as you might find in less fortunate places. There are not enough law enforcement officers to be on the spot and catch every person who breaks the law. I have to tell you that is one of the many things I give thanks for each day. Now don’t interpret this as anti-police or anything. One of my closest friends is an RNC officer. No–it’s that I truly love living in a place where we have enough sense to keep ourselves in line. That’s what needs to happen here too. People–and that is all of us–need to acknowledge that if we are driving we need to be fuly present. Anything else–distractions and alcohol/drugs–is simply not not to be tolerated.

      • Pretty low policing here as well. The police-car drives through most Monday afternoons at about 3pm. Don’t think I’ve ever seen them stop! But the community here is so small it – like your place – pretty much polices itself. Has to be said, if it was someone they knew being an idiot, something would be said about it. Quite blunt, the people round here! Same goes for where I come from in North Wales, really.

        • My previous home was a small rural community of around 700 people (at the time). We’d see the RCMP around 1-2 times per month. Just a drive through. No need to stop. That’s the way it should be.

  5. Ain’t technology great! People who text and drive are the bane of our existence as well. I love Mjollnir’s term “idiot magnet” – how apt. It’s not that snow is so hard to drive in, it is the other idiots on the road going too fast, talking, texting and who knows what else while driving. They seem to assume the pavement is dry all the time. I often tell my husband as he leaves in bad weather “Watch out for the turkeys!”.

    Thanks so much for liking my post.

    • A friend of mine explained it nicely using the term ‘situational awareness.’ He contends, and I agree, that when they are using mobiles for texting and such that they are simply not aware of their surroundings. That’s bad enough when you are walking but when driving a 2-3 tonne vehicle at speed…

  6. The sun always does the job, portholes not so much!

  7. Great post! And I thought it was only in Scotland that we got the idiot snow drivers!

    • Oh man. Where do I start! We have so much in common. Tough as nails. Different accent. High/low lands. History of external rule. Oh… Industrious, inventive, and did I say tough as nails. But those stupid drivers? Come on, we can fix that, right?

  8. Laughing. Just been having a discussion on a Brit blog about bad drivers in snow. Although didn’t involve texting on ‘phones. The world is a small place on the intersphere eh?

  9. johnlmalone says:

    we have laws against texting while driving a vehicle in Australia but i guess you do too in Canada; it’s just that some idiots choose to ignore them:(

    • You are correct–our level of policing is mostly adequate for the civilized place we have but, frankly, there are just not enough around to keep an eye on all the durned fools who figure the law does not apply to them because–hey, they are apparently excellent multitaskers. BTW–no such thing as multi-tasking and those who say they can are simply not self-aware enough to know their limitations.

  10. tishmoon says:

    I know exactly what you mean, hubby manages to escape death by idiots at least once a week. First time I have visited your blog, really nice. Laws that cannot or will not be enforced make me twitchy. Not enough compliance, too few officers. Cannot raise taxes to get more officers on the orad, vicious cycle. Glad you all came out of it unscathed ! =)

    • …this time, that is :>) Yes, and it seems to be getting a little worse each year–or maybe I am just getting more sensitive, who knows. At any rate, I look forward to Google or someone else perfecting the ‘self-driving-car’ technology they have been working on. If distracted drivers won’t change, maybe we can find some other way to make us all safer.

  11. Tracy says:

    Snow and driving here in the UK are a bad combination. Most people don’t get to experience it often so they drive too fast, too close and insist on idiocy. Couriers, truckers, van drivers are often the worst offenders, still rushing to make a deadline in spite of road conditions. To be honest it scares me and whenever I encounter someone like ‘buddy’ I try to let them pass – at least if they’re in front I can see their erratic behaviour and keep far enough away from them. I’d rather that than find them parked in my trunk!

    • Getting clear of the stupid drivers is probably the best defensive act. But you also bring up a very important point–that sort of driving brings out the worst in others. It makes us angry. I act it out by writing about it, others by talking about it, and so on. There’s a danger, though, that other drivers–cut off/almost hit or run off the road–may descend to road rage and decide to play joust with 3-tonne vehicles. Bad to worse…

  12. robpixaday says:

    ::sigh::

    People are endlessly creative when it comes to being stupid. I’m glad no one ended up dead/injured. This time.

    The pictures you posted are beautiful and fascinating. Thank you for sharing them! I’m south of you and although we don’t often experience such cold temperatures, we have had winters during which salt is nearly useless on icy roads. It’s amazing how powerful sunlight is!

    🙂

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