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Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:30 AM

Upper Midwest Drivers: Please slow down a little!

My wife and I went to the home of some friends for dinner yesterday afternoon. Temperatures were going down and it was raining pretty hard during the 35 minute ride on the I-694 beltway around the Twin Cities. But, it was in the afternoon before sunset, so it wasn't really a big deal. As usual, the prevailing speed on that freeway was about 75 mph, despite a 60 mph speed limit.

When we came home, about 8 PM, temperatures had dropped even further, hovering near the freezing mark. The dashboard on our KIA Soul displayed an icy roads possible icon. So, I found my lane and settled in at 60 mph. The roads were wet, and the lane marker lines were pretty much invisible, since Minnesota, in its wisdom, has no reflectors between lanes. That saves some money, I suppose.

Anyhow, the prevailing speed of the traffic was still about 75 mph. I was in the middle of three lanes, because that's the lane that takes me to my exit without making any further lane changes on my route. 60 MPH, and very careful, attentive driving, due to the temps and the wet roads with nearly invisible lane markings.

As I drove, I noticed many cars drifting out of their lanes, due to the poor visibility. Did people slow down because of the conditions. Nope, they did not. There wasn't any ice on the roads, even on elevated roadway sections, but 75 mph was too fast for the conditions, which could have changed at any time.

So, I recommend that people in the Twin Cities area slow down a little this November. Especially if the roads are wet and temperatures are right around 32 degrees. You won't know that ice has formed on a wet road until you lose control of your car on the ice. Just slow down a little. Saving 5 minutes on your drive isn't worth the risk.

Thanks for reading.

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Upper Midwest Drivers: Please slow down a little! (Original post)
MineralMan Sunday OP
cwydro Sunday #1
MineralMan Sunday #5
mnhtnbb Sunday #8
MineralMan Sunday #12
CottonBear Sunday #15
bullwinkle428 Sunday #2
MineralMan Sunday #3
The Velveteen Ocelot Sunday #4
MineralMan Sunday #6
Wounded Bear Sunday #17
tavernier Sunday #7
MineralMan Sunday #9
KY_EnviroGuy Sunday #10
MineralMan Sunday #11
Mister Ed Sunday #13
The Velveteen Ocelot Sunday #14
MineralMan Sunday #24
Wounded Bear Sunday #16
tblue37 Sunday #18
MineralMan Sunday #19
PoindexterOglethorpe Sunday #20
MineralMan Sunday #22
treestar Sunday #21
MineralMan Sunday #23

Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:33 AM

1. People drive like maniacs around here too.

Rain or shine. The tail-gating really irks me.

Usually they rush to pass me, then I pull up next to them at the next traffic light. Stupidity.

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Response to cwydro (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:38 AM

5. Yeah. We have the same thing on our arterial streets.

On the one I use the most, the lights are synced to the 35 mph speed limit on that road. Like you said, people blow past at 50 mph, and are waiting at the next light which changes to green just before I get there. It's hilarious, but they don't seem to recognize me in my car, catching up to them at every light. Morons.

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Response to cwydro (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:44 AM

8. I tell all my non North Carolina friends that there is no such thing as a speed limit

in North Carolina. And yes, the tail gating is awful.

I was on my way up to Chapel Hill from Raleigh a week ago on I-40. Early Sunday afternoon. Clear, sunny weather. Doing my usual just under 75 although the posted speed limit is 65. Being passed right and left. And tail gated. Then a Maserati--with a new, temporary plate-- passed in the far left lane. Suddenly, the lane was wide open in front of him and he saw it and was off. Man, you could hear that motor! He had to have been doing at least 90--maybe more--for as far as I could see and then he was gone.



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Response to mnhtnbb (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:57 AM

12. An awful lot of those super cars end up in accidents.

Drivers who are not equipped to drive them often push them beyond their limits and way beyond the driver's own limitations.

Totaling a car that cost a quarter of a million dollars seems like an awful waste to me.

There are some excellent videos on YouTube of such crashes.

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Response to mnhtnbb (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:34 AM

15. You're lucky Richard Petty wasn't tailgating you:



RICHARD PETTY FACES HIT-AND-RUN CHARGE
BY LORRAINE AHEARN Staff Writer Sep 18, 1996
https://www.greensboro.com/richard-petty-faces-hit-and-run-charge/article_9b367971-70ea-5a5a-97a6-af97a4975884.html

The retired racer, who threw in the checkered flags in 1992 and is now making a bid for a full-time political career, was accused of repeatedly bumping the rear of a car he was trying to pass in the left lane of the interstate and then leaving the scene of the incident, according to a Highway Patrol report.Though Petty's attorney argued that there were no injuries and minimal damage to the car Petty is accused of bumping Sept. 11, the Level Cross Republican was charged Tuesday with hit-and-run property damage and careless and reckless driving, both misdemeanor violations.

The driver Petty is charged with hitting, Oak Ridge resident James Rassette, declined to comment on the incident. However, the Highway Patrol captain overseeing the investigation said that Rassette's statement suggested that Petty had intentionally bumped his car.

...snip....

Rassette, who had just passed another car, slowed down and tried to move out of the left lane.

At that point, the truck bumped him and kept going. After Rassette got into Davidson County he flagged down a trooper, described the truck and gave the license number. The trooper pulled Petty over several miles up the road, took information from both drivers, and looked at Rassette's Mazda, finding little or no damage.

...snip...



At the time, Petty, a Republican, was running for the North Carolina Secretary of State office.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:34 AM

2. Storm system coming through this region tonight and into tomorrow morning. Potential

for 3" of snow - not looking forward to tomorrow's commute.

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Response to bullwinkle428 (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:36 AM

3. The first snow of the season always results in hundreds of crashes

and even more spinouts here in the Twin Cities metro. It's like people forget how to drive in winter every year. I'm so glad I don't have to commute. My office is down a flight of stairs in my house. No ice indoors.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:37 AM

4. Every year people have to refresh their memories as to how to drive in snow and ice,

and at the beginning of every winter, the fact that many have forgotten the last winter becomes obvious. So here are some reminders, dammit.

(1) Don't drive over the speed limit. If the visibility is bad, drive under it.
(2) Be aware of the conditions that cause the formation of black ice and be ready for it.
(3) If you hit an icy patch and start to lose control, turn into the direction of the skid.
(4) Don't pump your brakes unless you have an older car that doesn't have antilock brakes.
(5) Keep your headlights clean so you can see.
(6) Brush or scrape all of the snow and ice off all of your windows, not just a little circle on the windshield.

BTW, the reason there are no reflectors on the lane lines is because the snow plows would scrape them off.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:40 AM

6. Oh, yeah. The snowplows.

I didn't think of that.

We had a little snow for the morning commute last week, but we haven't had the 500 crash morning commute yet. It's coming, though.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:37 AM

17. Many areas have learned about the reflector thing...

and now they are recessed below the road surface so the plows don't scrape them off.

Of course, that means they get covered over faster by the snow and become invisible.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:43 AM

7. Potential of large amounts of ice

in cocktail glasses here in the Florida Keys as flocks of snowbirds are due to arrive as soon as the really nasty weather hits the Midwest.

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Response to tavernier (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:45 AM

9. Cool. It's cooler here in the summer, while Floridians swelter.

Plus, Florida Man lives in, well, Florida...

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:49 AM

10. Most people forget that bridges freeze first with a cold wind.

We have some that become treacherous every year in northern KY although our highway dept has gotten much better at treating them early. Those bridges freeze over long before the ground surfaces do.

Thanks for that reminder, MineralMan. It is quite appropriate with this upcoming cold snap throughout the mid-west this week.

KY.......

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:53 AM

11. They do forget that, for sure.

Often, they're not even aware that they're on a bridge on major freeways.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:13 AM

13. And remember that four-wheel drive does not make it safe to drive faster.

A lot of drivers here in the Twin Cities seem to believe that the superior traction of their four-wheel drive vehicle makes it safe to drive faster on icy freeways.

They are wrong.

Once you hit the brakes, folks, your four-wheel drive vehicle is just another car. ALL cars have four-wheel braking.

A couple of years ago, we had an especially bad winter for driving, and ditched cars were an all-too-frequent sight on my morning commute. I kept an informal count. At the end of the season, of the approximately fifty cars that I has seen in the ditch, fully two-thirds were four-wheel drive SUVs.

To take advantage of the greater safety that your 4WD offers in icy conditions, you need to drive it at a moderate speed.

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Response to Mister Ed (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:32 AM

14. Four-wheel drive is good for getting you out of a snowbank.

It's no better than two-wheel drive for driving on ice.

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Response to Mister Ed (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 02:36 PM

24. Yup. 4WD helps you go, not stop.

A lot of drivers don't understand that, you're right.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:35 AM

16. Better yet, don't drive at all if you can get away with it...

Be safe!

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:49 AM

18. An article I wrote in 2002 for one of my public websites:

Another One for the Annual Darwin Awards

Today's newspapers show pictures of a pile-up on Interstate 43, about 60 miles north of Milwaukee. In the deadliest traffic accident in Wisconsin history, more than two dozen vehicles crashed on a foggy highway at about 7:30 Friday morning, killing 10 people and injuring 34 others, seven critically.

The crashes occurred on both sides of the interstate, as heavy fog engulfed the road just west of Lake Michigan. One after another the vehicles plowed into each other, and at least eight burst into flames. State Patrol Sgt. John Jones said that visibility was "next to nothing" when he arrived at the scene (The Lawrence Journal-World 12 Oct. 2002: 4A; all quotations are from this article).

According to Jones, the evidence of vehicles "double stacked--vehicles on top of vehicles, vehicles underneath the tractor-trailer unit," suggests that many of the cars may have crashed while driving through the fog at a high rate of speed.

One driver, Larry Demeny, who slowed down because of the fog, said that he veered into a ditch when he saw the underside of an SUV ahead of him, but drivers who came along behind him "just kept piling up." Demeny said, "You couldn't see very far. You would just hear brakes squeal and then the sound of metal clashing."

Another driver, Kevin Fetterer, who also managed to swerve in time to avoid the pile-up, said that cars and trucks continued to plow into each other for four or five minutes.

When the fog lifted a few minutes later, the pavement was marked by black skid marks.

Okay, sure, we have to deplore the loss of life and the injuries suffered by motorists involved in this accident, but I think we have to do more than that. We also have to consider how these accidents occur.

Here in Lawrence, Kansas, we often have sudden fierce rainstorms. During such storms the rain pours down so hard that visibility is zero and windshield wipers are absolutely useless. On a few occasions I have been on the road when one of those storms kicks up. Usually there is no warning that it is going to be such a downpour. One minute it looks like a normal rainstorm, and the next, you are driving underwater.

If I am not already on the road when such a storm hits, nothing would persuade me to get into a car. If I am on the road, I will try to get to someplace safe and pull over until the storm passes. (These storms are usually as brief as they are fierce, seldom lasting more than a half-hour.) But as long as I must drive through such rain, I reduce speed and drive as if my life depended on it--because I know it does.

Occasionally in the winter we have blizzards that are the snowy equivalent of those murderous rainstorms. Snow and wind are such that there is no visibility, and the roads are slick, slick, slick.

But even as I reduce speed under such terrifying conditions and drive with extra care, other drivers pass me going five or ten miles an hour over the posted speed limit, honking at me and flipping me off for going too slow. On more than one occasion I have passed one of those drivers a few minutes later, trapped in a ditch he has skidded into--or smashed into a parked car, or into the rear-end of another car stopped at a traffic light.

The black skid marks left by the cars and trucks involved in that Wisconsin pile-up, along with the screech of hastily applied brakes and the sound of metal impacting metal at high speeds--these things tell us a lot about how that pile-up occurred.

The fog was so bad that, as the state trooper says, visibility was zero. These drivers could not see what was ahead of them until they were right on top of it. But apparently that little detail did not enter into their decision to keep barreling along at a high rate of speed. It was 7:30 a.m. No doubt many of them were in a hurry to get to work. No matter. If it had been 10:30 a.m., they would have been going just as fast.

As long as drivers consider it their natural right to go at least as fast as the posted speed limit, and often ten miles over, no matter what the weather conditions, we will continue to see horrendous pile-ups like this whenever visibility is reduced or the roads are made treacherous by fog, snow, or heavy rain.

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #18)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 11:59 AM

19. Good article. Unfortunately few read such things.

There are so many poor drivers out there who ignore everything having to do with safety that defensive driving isn't just a good idea - it's essential.

Tailgating drivers and road rage drivers are the very worst. Instead of simply changing lanes and passing, they seem to think they have to run up on your rear end, honk, and gesture obscenely. Often, there's nothing you can do about it, either. If you can't change lanes to the right for some reason, you can't get out of their way.

There is a left exit on a freeway I travel quite often. To take it, you have to be in the leftmost lane on a four-lane freeway. The lane immediately to the right of that left lane is usually available to drivers who feel they need to exceed the speed limit, but they don't move over and pass. Instead, they ignore the signs indicating that left exit ahead and ride up on your bumper, angry and frustrated.

It makes no sense at all. If I'm in that lane so I can exit left, I am going the speed limit on that stretch of road. But, since they ticket frequently around there, I'm not going to go any faster than that, and I do have to take that exit. Sometimes, the drivers coming up from behind do very dangerous things in their road rage. That exit, however, is not going to move anywhere, and drivers need to use the leftmost lane to take it.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 02:12 PM

20. Unfortunately, going 15mph slower than the prevailing traffic

makes you something of a hazard. That's about 20 percent slower than everyone else, and if visibility isn't so good, someone could catch up to you far faster than anticipated.

Just saying.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #20)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 02:26 PM

22. I choose a lane that isn't traveling at 75.

The freeway I was on has three lanes. I was in the middle lane. The traffic was light, so people could pass me easily, and did. I feel no responsibility to drive faster than the speed limit, so I will be in the right or center lane, doing the speed limit. Don't like it? Pass me.

I've been driving since 1962. No accidents. No tickets. Ever. I do know what I'm doing. I don't obstruct traffic. I also don't break the traffic laws. It's a balancing act, isn't it?

If people want to drive 15 mph over the limit, they can use the lane to the left that I'm not in. You won't find me in the leftmost lane any time, unless there is a left exit from the freeway that I plan to take or if I'm passing another car. In the latter case, I won't enter that lane unless I can pass without obstructing faster traffic.

I don't need a driving lecture, thanks.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 02:14 PM

21. I had a near miss the other day

while in lane 3, an idiot decided to go from lane 2 to 4 cutting right in front of me with inches to spare between me and him and the car ahead of me and him.

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Response to treestar (Reply #21)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 02:32 PM

23. People who change lanes two at a time are bad drivers.

I leave room for lane-changers, but people who dart across several lanes are accidents waiting to happen.

One of my pet peeves about HOV or Diamond lanes on the far left of multi-lane freeways is the fact that people who need to take a right exit often wait too long to shift to the right, and have to rush the lane changes to exit. That is a major cause of traffic slowdowns on such freeways. The lane changing causes braking in the other lanes which snowballs down the road, slowing traffic inordinately.

Really, I'm not a fan of those left-hand high occupancy vehicle lanes. I think they sometimes cause more problems than they solve. The 405 freeway in Los Angeles is especially bad in that way. Often, taking an exit requires shifting across 4 or more traffic lanes. Every major interchange along the 405 experiences major slow-downs caused by people moving right from the HOV lanes to exit to the right. Lots of accidents, too, caused by people in a panic to get to an exit or take another freeway.

Ugh!

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