Driving in a winter wonderland


Photo by Adam Monnette

A snow-covered car sits in the middle of a driveway, waiting to be taken on a drive. With snow on the tires and on the roads, people need to give themselves extra time to slow to a stop.

The streets glisten with fresh powdered snow three inches high while the trees hang down due to the weight of the snow. Under the facade of the arctic landscape however, a dangerous substance lies just inches below the snow-covered road.

“Right before [another] car hit mine, time slowed down and I heard a loud screech, kind of like nails on a chalkboard, but much worse,” Morgan Matheson, senior, experienced driver, said. “After the crash, I was in shock and so scared, especially because of what my parents were going to think since I was in a crash.”

According to the US Department of Transportation, there is an extra quarter-million car crashes a year from snowy or icy weather.

“Last year, we had [around] four inches of snow, and we didn’t have a snow day and so we still had to go to school,” Matheson said. “To get out of my neighborhood, I have to drive up this steep hill. I was trying to go up the hill and my car stopped in the middle of the street, [and] I had to reverse and go a completely different way out of my neighborhood because of the snow.”

Snow can not only be a problem for experienced drivers but newer ones as well.

“A couple of weeks ago, it was my very first time driving in snowy weather,” Angelika Popek, new junior driver, said. “As soon as I pulled out of my neighborhood, I skidded and slid on the ice hidden under [the road] and did a 360 before hitting the side of the road and going off it.

Approximately 85 percent of high school and college-age students get into a car accident before they turn 25, according to the Department of Transportation.

When students are driving, they have to be careful of not only their vehicles but of other ones as well.

“Last year, I was on my way to school, turning right out of my neighborhood onto Route 12 and the car behind me slid and rear-ended me,” Matheson said. “[This] was the first time someone ever hit me and it was all because of the ice on the road and them not being cautious.”

For students to stay safe during the winter, Popek and Matheson have tips on how to stay safe during this blustery season.

When you start to lose control of your car, never steer in the same direction. Always “slide the other way,” Popek advised. Don’t make the mistake of “slamming on the brakes” because if you do, it will make the slide worse.

“Two things that you should watch out for is worrying about other people,” Matheson said. “I had thought that if I worried about myself, then I would be fine, but reckless people are the main problem. The other thing I would say is common knowledge, but to just take it slow then you think you need to. It’s better to be late than dead.”