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A Masshole's Guide to Winter Driving

Thursday, March 5, 2015 | 0 Comment(s)

*As the son of parents that hail from New York City and Chicago, and being born in Massachusetts proper myself, "genetically" speaking I am a LA father away from being the worst possible bread of driver*

If you are headed to New England anytime soon, you should know that the residents of this land are contents under severe pressure -- ready to burst.

This winter has been absolutely brutal.  It's been freezing, it's been snowy, it's been icy, and it's been windy.  For months nows. The average resident is so sick and tired of winter weather, that even the occasional 40-degree day seems disastrous, with all its dirt-filled slush splashing up the sides of one's car and pant legs.  For the next few weeks, the weather around here is a no win situation, a Catch-22.  More snow and cold means ice and screaming at the sky.  Warmth means flooding and run-off.

Take deep breathes.  This weekend is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time: The literal light at the end of the tunnel.

I prefer to view early March as one last chance to permanently incorporate the driving lessons that Winter has attempted to impart on its denizens.  What, you haven't taken NE Winter Driver's Ed? Here are the the highlights:

1. Many a family have internal arguments regarding the eternal question of how much space to leave between you and the car in front of you.  Winter provides us with the best, most practical, answer.  You need to leave just enough space in front of you to altogether avoid getting your car covered with all the slushy bullshit each car is bound to kick up.  Obviously this is not a set distance but rather an algorithm that incorporates speed and traffic details.  If the front of your car is drenched in street salt and muddy splatter paint, you're tailgating.  Back up.

But, we must remember where we are talking bout geographically.  New England.  Rule one above is actually a pretty solid driving tip, but its regional drawback is that it leaves the car in front no recourse if the dickbag behind them is tailgating.  Have no fear, for every reaction in a Massachusetts, there is an equally dickish and opposite reaction.

2. You look in your rearview mirror and all you can see in the hood and windshield of the Mitsubishi half-way up your tailpipe. In the land of perpetual black ice, the tried and true slamming on one's breaks has a dangerous potential of causing a car wreck. While it is an effective method of conveying one's point, the hassle of insurance and car repairs makes this go to summer driving maneuver a no go after October.

Thankfully, we have human-being sized pot holes now that winter has ripped open the pavement, which can be used as a built in tailgating defense system.  When you realize the person behind you has failed to provide you with a reasonable amount of wiggle room, your next move is to do your best to just miss as many of the really large gaping potholes as possible.  This means aiming your tires so that the valleys in the concrete go under the chassis of your car, as close to one of the wheel wells as possible.  As a consequence of leaving you no proper driving cushion, the offending tailgater should have a hell of a time seeing and avoiding said black holes themselves.  I've found that once I hear the car behind me's undercarriage hit pavement for a second time, I miraculously have three new car-lengths of space padding my rear bumper.

In my town, this car would also have a parking ticket on it. 
3. This may be my favorite winter driver tip of them all.  For all you lovelies who live on two-way side streets that become one lane roads in winter, with cars parked haphazardly along the length of the block.

Somehow, people take these streets as their own personal mini-drag race courses.  They use the clearly visible STOP sign 100 yards away as an excuse to open 'er up, a zippy short-cut around the traffic clad main roads.  But you live on that road.  Kids live on that road.  People need to slow the hell down.

So, for a day or two, park on the street instead of in your driveway.  Not just anywhere on the street, mind you, but find the most epic and soul crushing pot hole in the vicinity and the park your car on whichever side of the hole has the lion's share of unaffected pavement. By isolating the pothole into the center of the street, you give the flow of traffic two possible decisions.  Drive slowly and carefully to avoid wrecking their shit on an inverted street volcano, or enjoy their now leaky muffler.  Essentially, until the pavers get out to repair the destruction cause by Se├▒or Frost, potholes are the new speed bumps, except you don't have to petition City Hall to get one installed, you just have to park smart.

like so
4.  Not having a garage in New England sucks.  You not only have to shovel the feet of snow off your car, but then you have to work on the snowicade caused by the plows sealing you in with frozen snow and dirt tossed aside the road.  I found only one upside to the condition of maintaining a uncovered automobile.

After a particularly significant accumulation, once you car windows are cleared, you have a snow flat-top extended a foot up over your car roof.  I leave it there.  I leave it there and I desperately hope that it stays i tact long enough for someone to drive like a jack ass.  And then, with the jackass behind me, I press up on my sunroofs moonroof, cause the glass angle angle aerodynamically upward, dislodging my snow and ice depth charge.

This guy knows what I'm talking about
As the mass comes crashing down, the car is forced to slow down, either to avoid the oncoming avalanche, or because he's usually flipping me off with at least one hand at that point.  I take it as a compliment.
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And there you have it. New England Driving (just the) Tips.  Are they a bit mean-spirited? No.  They're regional.   Please feel free to add your own driving suggestions for winter weather in the comments.

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