General Question

Ivy's avatar

Why do Southerners, who admit they can't drive in snow, insist on going out and sliding into each other like bumper cars during every snowstorm?

Asked by Ivy (2476 points ) December 19th, 2009

The main photograph on cnn.com right now is a massive traffic wreck on a highway in Virginia. The same thing is happening in North Carolina. Why can’t people stay home for even one day, especially in storms that they’re not equipped to navigate?

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34 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

“You’d better drive home fast, because the roads are bad.” They’re out because when it snows, you need bread and milk. Not sure why, but you need bread and milk.

syz's avatar

Part of the problem is that southern areas receive snow so irregularly that local governments cannot justify budgeting for snow removal equipment. That also means that people do not have many opportunities to learn to deal with the driving conditions. Folks still need to get home from work and pick up their kids – life goes on.

You should also remember that media types are out there actively searching for the most ‘exciting’ photos that they can find. Plenty of people are managing just fine.

Response moderated
Booknight's avatar

Snow brings out the inner kid. The inner kid says “Ha, I ain’t gonna let a little snow stop me” and they go about their daily routine. They have little experience driving in snow and accidents happen.

chyna's avatar

@bolwerk Seriously?

Response moderated
rangerr's avatar

@bolwerk Really? Like…...Really?

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Having lived in North Carolina I can vouch the entire state is completely useless as far as handling snow storms,they close everything and don’t even bother to clear the roads “AT ALL” anyone who has to be out is completely F*ed !!

bolwerk's avatar

rangerr: Like, yeah?

rangerr's avatar

@bolwerk Where do you get that accusation from?

syz's avatar

[mod says] Remain on topic, please.

Response moderated
arnbev959's avatar

The snowstorm hit Jersey not too long ago. Once the roads start getting covered with snow the accidents will start happening in the North as well.

I had to drive in snow the other day. I drive a little pickup with a four cylinder engine and back wheel drive. The snow was unexpected, I didn’t have any weight in the bed, I was in upstate New York and I had to get back to Jersey by 6:00 for a class. I had to go up a steep hill, the truck couldn’t make it, and I ended up sliding sideways down the hill. Eventually I got myself unstuck, but I found out later that in just that one town a number of vehicles, including plows, slid off the road and got stuck that same day. This was in a region where it snows all the time. Snow isn’t good for driving, but people have places to go, both in the South and the North and anywhere else.

bolwerk's avatar

The worst drivers I ever saw in the U.S. were in Boston, though I never saw the place in a snowstorm.

Pandora's avatar

Mostly because almost everyone who has a car has a four wheel drive and they think the thing drives itself apparently. I know what you mean. I use to live in North Carolina and I can’t tell you how many large vehicles you see in the ditch.
But truly, it also has to do with the fact that many people in North Carolina have low pay and their bosses are idiots and tell them stuff like, Hey you don’t have to come to work today or tomorrow because of the snow. We care about your safety but you won’t get paid for staying home. And there is no public transportation that can get you their safely.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Because it is so much fun?

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but people have to work for a living. If their places of employment remain open on snow days, then they have to be there, regardless of bad weather conditions.

Supacase's avatar

Sometimes you just don’t expect to be on the road when it is that bad. I live in Virginia and we got 18” of snow yesterday. Snow was predicted to start at 4pm. I went to the store at 2pm – 20 minutes away – and it was not snowing at all. I was there for 30 minutes and there was over an inch of snow on the ground when I came out. It took me 2 hours to get home and there were about 5” on the ground by then. I knew it was going to snow, but I thought I left in plenty of time. I had no idea it would hit so fast – that is not typical for where I live.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Supacase, I was going to look up how much snow fell. I hear it was an all-time record for Roanoke for a 24 hour period. I hope your power stays on!

jerv's avatar

@lonelydragon Yes, that is why I drove in white-out conditions and passed snowplows. Then again, I am a born-and-bred New Englander who actually learned to drive in the snow before I ever tried it on pavement. I also have a good grasp of physics which many people seem to lack.

Personally, this has always been a mystery to me since I would think that learning to drive is a prerequisite for obtaining a drivers license. Then again, we have people being stupid quite often and screwing up even on dry pavement all the time so it stands to reason that when you take something that people have a hard time with in the first place (driving) and then make them so something else they aren’t always good at (thinking) then it’s inevitable that there are going to be problems.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It’s really hard to learn to drive in 18 inches of snow coming down in a 24 hour period if your average annual snowfall is about 4 – 6 inches…

john65pennington's avatar

In 1952, Nashville(a southern city) had a humongous blizzard. you are correct. we rarely have blizzards and this one really caught us off guard. everyone panicked and headed to the stores for bread and milk. this is where this saying and tradition comes from. we are not use to driving in the snow, mainly because we do not have that much snow. its sometimes a joke to see drivers here try to manipulate an auto in the snow.

jerv's avatar

@john65pennington A bit like Seattle last year. There were less than a dozen plow in the city, prob’ly only 2 dozen in the whole county, no salt or sand…That was the last straw and the mayor who made that little decision wound up losing the election over it.

rangerr's avatar

Our snow plows and ambulances have been getting stuck all day.
I’m in VA too, and we have gotten a total of 31 inches so far.
Last time it was this bad, it was ‘96.

Like @john65pennington said, it caught us off guard.

Most people don’t know how hard it is to drive in that much snow, because we have never had it.

Me? I’ve got a tractor and a 4 wheeler. I’m set.

SABOTEUR's avatar

You can’t make sense out of nonsense.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@john65pennington, I hear you. Louisville had 16 inches in 24 hours in January, 1994. The city stopped working for 4 days. The main streets were plowed right away, but the side streets took forever to get to. The city told people to stay home unless they were employed by “critical businesses.”

@rangerr, 31 inches!?!!!! Talk about dreaming of a white Christmas!

raylrodr's avatar

Unfortunately, it’s not just the Southerners that are adversely challenged by Winter weather driving. I just cringe when I get called for work (I drive 75 miles one way) and we’re experiencing the Season’s first snowfall. People with their little plastic cars as well as those “invincible 4X4s” all wind up playing car hockey or parking in the ditch.

rangerr's avatar

@PandoraBoxx The snow trapped us inside.. haha.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

1. A lot of the time, the snow doesn’t start until you’re already at work or your kids are still at school and need to be picked up, etc.

2. It’s not so much that Southerners can’t drive in snow as it is that governments in the South don’t invest in heavy equipment to clear the roads like they do in the North, so when it snows, it’s actually really treacherous here.

jerv's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Considering how well they take care of rural areas, there are parts of the North that are about the same way.

batcavenc's avatar

Another good question is why are people up North rated as the WORST DRIVERS in the country, people in R I can’t even pass the written exam. I watch the weather channel and they show cars all over the place——UP NORTH , so if you are bad drivers on dry pavement how does that transend into being a better driver when the roads get slick,, sorry but that makes no sense.

jerv's avatar

@batcavenc There is a reason that people from VT, NH, and ME get a little nervous around drivers from CT, RI. Maybe they figure daddy’s money can buy them an exemption from the laws of physics?

bolwerk's avatar

@batcavenc – drivers everywhere in the U.S. are just horrendous, really. Southerners blow in the snow, but people in Boston stalk you and accuse you of cutting them off if you deign to pass them on a highway.

Two pretty inseparable problems collide to make driving in the United States nightmarish: one is car dependency and the other is the belief that driving is automagically safe and easy. Car dependency doesn’t need much explanation (U.S. planners have been designing society so you have to pay fees to Big Automotive and Big Oil to survive for decades), but the idea that you can give a 16-year-old a road test under adult supervision and a short rules test and expect him to know how to drive well is stupid on many levels. A few obvious things: he’s UNDER ADULT SUPERVISION, knowing he has to please the adult; rules are easy to remember, but they don’t take you very far if you aren’t interested in them; rules can’t be enforced past more than minuscule minority of infractions; and penalties for infractions are lenient because of the car-dependency problem. Things don’t really get better after 16 either; drivers’ skills improve, but for many people only a little.

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