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Monday, February 27, 2012

Snow, Ice and 4-Wheel Drive

I just returned from a whirl-wind tour of Oregon with my son Brendan so that he could tour the University of Oregon campus. We flew into Portland late Thursday night, toured U of O on Friday, drove to Bend afterward, skiied Mt. Bachelor on Saturday, and then drove back to Portland on Sunday in time to catch a flight home. Eugene was sunny the day we toured U of O, but the rain arrived shortly thereafter, catching up with us in Bend where it dumped more a couple of feet of snow.

Since it's been about 15 years since we lived in Bend, I'm a bit out of practice driving on icy roads, so I'm sure I was more cautious driving than I was a few years back when snow and ice were my constant companions (at least during the winter). Nevertheless, I was stunned by how fast some people drive on ice, especially those in four-wheel drive vehicles who seem to be under the mistaken impression that four-wheel drive actually helps one drive on ice, which of course it doesn't. Thus, I wasn't surprised that the only accident we saw was a four-wheel drive SUV lying on its back in a ditch (I don't think anyone was hurt).

Of course, this lone incident doesn't count as a random sample, but back when we lived in Oregon, the majority of the accidents we saw during the winter were four-wheel drive SUV's, usually the result of drivers who overestimated the ability of four-wheel drive to keep them from sliding on ice. I guess folks never learn.

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