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Treacherous Driving


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I took my sons up north to visit Grandma and Grandpa this weekend (for one son's 11th birthday). As often happens, it started snowing north of Rochester, which is about 45 minutes south of South Bend. The road wasn't particularly slippery, but it quickly became snow-covered and, thus, impossible to see. There were stretches where you couldn't even tell where the edges of the road were; everything was blanketed in white. A moron driver in a semi barreled past me, which blinded me for quite some time. That was the only white-knuckle moment on the road, however; slow but steady going was enough otherwise.


Nothing has yet to touch a drive I made from Indianapolis to Terre Haute about 15 years ago. It had been raining, but while I was in Indy the temps dropped to below freezing. I didn't know this until I was on I-70 going home that night. It was a skating rink all the way. It took me 4 hours to drive the 68 miles. Any faster than I was going, and my car would drift in its lane. I watched other cars whiz past me only to slide into one guardrail, bounce off, hit the other one, bounce off, and hit the first one again. It was like they were bumper cars.


What's the most dangerous driving situation you've been in?



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Anytime with my ex wife behind the wheel...terrifying! No....just kidding, but I needed that!


I think I have already told the story of almost losing the Land Cruiser over a cliff on a muddy road...but that was on a Forest Service road, not a highway.


I guess the most treacherous was about 5 years ago gong over Snoqualmie Pass in a snowstorm. I was working in Spokane and we had been home in Olympia for a long weekend. I had studded snow tires on all four wheels and was used to winter driving.


As we approached the pass it started snowing hard. About half the truckers must have figured they were going to be the last truck over the pass before they required chains, because as we approached the last three or four miles and the steepest part of the grade, they were jackknifing all over the road.


I knew the secret to success was not to stop, but keep up my momentum. Cars were stopping in the middle of the road, and of course could not get going again. It was like an arcade game where the escape routes keep getting blocked. A few really "intelligent" drivers parked in the middle of the road and took to walking down the center of the freeway.


As we approached the summit, I spotted one last opening through the maze of cars and trucks. An older Oldsmobile was sliding backwards and was about to close the gap, but with my wife cursing me, I swung right and then made a left turn through the gap and with the last of my momentum made it to open road, and over the pass.


I imagine we were the last car over the pass that night. At least traffic was light all the way to Spokane!


Keep the Show on the Road...and through the snow.

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I would say my most treacherous trip was coming home from Cinci a few years ago. It was two days before Christmas and I heard that snow was forecast (ALLOT of snow). If I didn't leave right away, I wasn't going to make it home for the holiday. I started home, and snow had already started to fly. Eight inches came down by the time I hit Dayton. People were going under 15 miles an hour on I-75. People trying to pull off the road - all ended up in the ditch. The wiper blades kept icing up and I had to periodically grab the blades (while driving) and snap them so that they would keep working. I was really glad when I FINALLY got to Toledo and the snow had let up (some 8 hours later).


It was also my first time driving in snow in more than 13 years! Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out.




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Driving up the side of a mountain in Pennsylvania, in dense fog, around 1am - and no guard rails on the open side of the road. When we came down in the morning we figured the drop off to be at least 1000 feet.

Or maybe driving down I-81 between Hazleton and Harrisburg, at about 40 mph, in a zero visibility snow storm with 18 wheelers going by doing at least 60, if not more. On the other hand, that one turned out ok - I found a great motel in Frackville and an equally nice diner nearby for both supper and breakfast. Decided longevity was better than getting run over by an 18 wheeler.

I've done so much driving around this ole country over the years and had so many weather related close calls that it's hard to say which was worse. That I'm still here after 55 years of driving in all kinds of weather I attributte to stupidity (for not getting off the road) or just plain dumb luck. Now-a-days I sort of tend to stay home during bad weather - simply because I can and also because I don't know how much luck I got left!!!!



Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Good stories!


I must say, every time I've ever driven in Pennsylvania, it's been in a snowstorm. I was on the Turnpike once in a snowstorm, foot aching on the clutch, going 15 mph for probably 50 miles in a friend's '85 Civic HF. A faint breeze was enough to toss that car out of its lane on a slick road. I believe I left grip marks in the steering wheel.



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  • 2 weeks later...

The most frightening weather-related driving was along I-55 on our first-ever Route 66 trip back in 2002.


We had gone into Chicago the day before and spent the night in Joliet. We planned on driving 66 to St. Louis this trip, but with snow still coming down in the morning, we figured it would be "safer" on the superslab. We had NO idea what to expect on the old road.


I-55 was a truck speed-zone. You could barely see with the snow coming down and the highway had not been cleared. That didn't stop these big ol' semis from zooming by us at 60-75 mph. And here we were in the little old Grand Am. Their spray and the snow made it fairly impossible to see. Believe me, it was white knuckle time.


It's a wonder we even ever got onto 66 after that experience. But, for better or worse, we did.

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