Ice Cometh, Man: No, You Are Not an Excellent Driver
Oh, no. The ice-driving season is about to come back to Dallas for its annual reign of terror. We're all going to die.
When I moved to Texas from Michigan about 100 years ago, the common wisdom was that people from the North knew how to drive on ice and people from Texas didn't. I liked that version. I still wish it were true.
Unfortunately, all kinds of factors have intervened since then. For one thing, recent studies have shown that the big problem isn't so much people who can't drive on ice. It's people who can't drive.
Every year year GMAC Insurance publishes a national survey of driving skills. The absolute dumbest drivers in the nation, according to the 2011 survey, are in D.C. The second dumbest are in Hawaii. I have no idea what to make of that. Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts are right behind. We're 33rd place in Texas -- pretty crappy but not that crappy.
The dumbest region of the country for driving skills, according to this year's survey, is the Northeast -- a consistent theme over the years. Last year's survey showed that drivers in the Northeast were especially prone not to know what a yellow light is. It was not that they knew but didn't want to slow down. They didn't know a yellow meant you were supposed to slow down.
Oh, boy, yellow light ahead. This is a tough one. What does it mean? Uh ... slow down? Go faster? Turn on the radio?
So if people don't know they're supposed to slow down for a yellow, how smart do we think they're going to be about various weather conditions? This year's survey shows that 18 percent of the people on the road today couldn't pass a written driver's exam. Nationally. You can't even move away from them.
Edmunds.com has some ice driving tips at their site, including my personal favorite: Just stay home. But even their tips include a lot of depressing information -- the fact that people think they can fly around icy corners at high speed because they have anti-lock brakes, electronic stabilization control or all-wheel drive.
I don't think that's a regional thing. It's probably global and has a to do with the way technology and advertising are conspiring to make the whole species more stupider.
Anyway, I don't trust Yankees on the ice any more. I don't trust nobody. This is my tip for driving in Dallas the first day the freezing rains return: Sit kind of sideways on the seat so you can stare out the windshield and the back window of the car at the same time and every time a car comes up fast behind you grit your teeth and squeal like a dog. It just helps me get through it. Don't say I didn't try to help.