OP-ED: Do we really 'forget' how to drive in the winter? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

OP-ED: Do we really 'forget' how to drive in the winter?

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Stay safe out on the slick roads this year everyone! Stay safe out on the slick roads this year everyone!
SPOKANE, Wash. -

"Snow!"

"It's snowing!"

"First snow of the year!"

Those were the first three things I read on my Facebook feed Thursday morning. I knew the ground was white outside before I even got out of bed and looked out the window. I'm not sure why, but whenever weather hits, be it rain, wind, heat, but especially snow, a good majority of my Facebook friends turn into amateur meteorologists. I'm not sure what is running through their minds when they look out the window and think, "Hey, I'm the only one who can see the snow outside right now. I should tell everyone on Facebook." It's annoying. Almost as annoying as the "Brace Yourselves: Winter is Coming" Game of Thrones meme that people so cleverly throw up around this time of year. Wait a minute... ignore that last part and check out the cool graphic I created for the picture of this story!

I'm getting off track. Was I ever really on it? Do I have a point? Yes.

The point is... "stating the obvious." And with the first snow of the year hitting us on Thursday, the irony is that this article is all about stating the obvious.

On my drive to work Thursday morning, as I was creeping along at a safe and reasonable 20-25 mph on the fresh coated streets of Spokane, I noticed at least four cars out driving not only faster than they should, but with most of their windows obstructed by either snow or ice!

This is the time of year where you hear the obligatory saying, "everyone here forgets how to drive in the snow every year!" And with the number of slideoffs and crashes local law enforcement had to respond to during the first real snow of the year on Thursday morning, you'd be hard pressed to find an argument from me. But that's what I do. I like to argue. So that's what I'll do.

Listen, I don't think everyone forgets how to drive in the snow every year. Notice how everyone says it, but no one wants to admit it?

No one is saying, "I went to head down Grand Blvd. this morning, and was dumbfounded by what that white stuff was and didn't realize it was slick until I was already parked halfway through the Park Inn."

No, I think even though we live in the beautiful Inland Northwest and snow comes every year, even with the temperatures dropping, it still manages to catch us by surprise. We've been in a groove since at least March on getting up in the morning and not having to worry about taking a little extra time to prepare for the drive to wherever our destination may be. We haven't had to scrape our windows of frost, ice and snow for a while and forget how much time it actually takes to hit the road safely during the winter months.

So what do we do? We look at the clock and realize we have to be to work in 20 minutes and it takes 18 to get there and your boss is already suspicious of you because you called in sick last week, but then in a momentary lapse of judgement posted on social media how "psyched you were to just stay at home and watch the Yo Gabba Gabba marathon." So we grab our lunchable and juice box and run out the door only to remember on sight... it snowed. The windshield is frozen and covered with 6 inches. The roads are slick. By the time you clear everything off and warm up your car, you're going to be 20 minutes late.

What to do?

You can't just start your car and then run inside for 10 minutes and watch the rest of Cliffhanger (because the part when Sylvester Stallone throws John Lithgow's millions of dollars through the helicopter's blades is the ultimate act of defiance at 10,000 feet), while your defroster's on high and expect it to melt everything because police and KHQ have already told you that your car may get stolen by opportunistic thieves who are seemingly waiting behind bushes like winter car warmup goblins for you to run inside your warm house while your car is left running and unattended to steal.

So what do you do? You brush off just enough snow to see through your windshield, grab the wheel with white knuckles at 10 and 2, lean forward, squint your eyes and start what seems like a journey through Narnia to work with your car covered in snow.

Maybe you'll make it. Maybe you won't. Maybe you'll cause an accident. Maybe you won't. Maybe you'll hit a child crossing the road to go to school. Maybe you won't. Are those chances you really want to take? No. Your answer should be no.

So it's pretty simple. This first real snow of the year is a great reminder to state the obvious. A great reminder to change our snow-less habits and get in the groove of winter.

ALLOW YOURSELF EXTRA TIME.

Watch KHQ's weather forecast the day before. Download the KHQ Weather Authority app (shameless plug, but we are The Weather Authority). Know if you're going to have to deal with snow the next morning. Then plan for it.

Go to bed earlier. Wake up earlier. Head outside 5-10 minutes early. Start your car, crank your heat, grab your scraper, and spend the next few minutes clearing all of the obstructions on your car's windows. Not just the windshield, either. Make sure all of the other windows are cleared of snow and ice. While you're at it, clear your license plate of any snow too. And don't be one of those drivers who leaves 3 feet of snow on top of their car, losing a foot at every intersection. Get that roof, hood and trunk stuff off too! By the time you're done, the inside of your car is nice and toasty!

I spoke with Spokane County Sheriff's Office Deputy Mark Gregory Thursday morning who told me they see drivers out all the time with windows obstructed by snow, except for one little spot in the windshield that the driver can see out of. "Tank vision" is what he called it and it makes sense. If you don't clear your windows, you're driving with goggles on and posing a risk to everyone else out on and off the road.

Deputy Gregory said if you are stopped, you could be looking at a $124 fine, and if you cause an accident, that fine obviously goes up. So just clear off your windows. Make sure you can see out of all of them.

Good. You've heard that lecture and everyone will now abide, right? Right.

Driving in snow is not hard. In fact, if you take your time, it can be quite easy. But that's the key. Time. Give more of it to yourself. It could save your life and prevent you from taking someone else's.

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