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PNW Pioneer

Column: Drivers, bring your A game this year

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Every year when the Midwest climate decides to rain a deluge of sleet and snow upon us, the drivers of Purdue University show that they have the same driving skills as 16-year-olds who just got their licenses. Since this winter is supposedly going to be another Midwest nightmare, I hope PNW students will heed my warning.

During the winter, I walk out to my car after school and see students struggling to get out of the parking lot. John Bachmann, grounds supervisor, and the PNW grounds crew always do a good job of plowing and salting the parking lots so students aren’t sliding about, but it becomes null and void when students are not taking proper care of their vehicles and do not know how to drive in the winter. Something needs to be done, as I am tired of seeing dings on my car doors and waiting long amounts of time just to get out of the parking lot.

About two years ago, the PUC campus closed around noon due to the weather. The grounds crew worked tirelessly to clean up the lots, but the flood of students leaving the campus made it impossible for them to keep up. As I was leaving SUL, my professor spotted me and asked me for a ride home since her ride already left. Hoping to get some brownie points with the professor, I decided, “Sure, why not?” After brushing off my car, which looked like New York City after the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man exploded, we proceeded to leave. She lived right around the corner, but it took about an hour and a half to get to her home because nobody knew how to maneuver out of the parking lot. Everywhere I looked, there were students who didn’t brush the snow off their vehicles, as if they’d just hoped and prayed that they could make it out. Student were shredding the tread off their tires after getting stuck in the snow. Everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong.

I am not sure whether the poor winter driving skills stems from the lack of experience, as many students may only have been driving for two years, or from students who are not from the Midwest region, but something needs to be done. If you are still not used to driving during a Midwest winter, please follow these steps for the sake of myself and other students:

  • Brush the snow completely off your car and scrape off the ice. You are not capable of seeing through three inches of snow and ice on your windshield, so do not try.
  • Make sure your tires are in decent condition. If you don’t have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you especially want to make sure that you have enough tread on your tires. You don’t want to pop a tire on a busy road in the middle of a blizzard.
  • Keep certain items in your car for in case you get stuck in snow. A few times I have found myself stuck in snow from spinning out on the road. It’s very wise to keep something in your car to either help you dig out or something to put under the stuck tire to give it traction. I once got out of the snow in the middle of the night with a foam sled and a binder.
  • Make sure your phone is charged or that you can at least charge your phone in your car. Once I was driving to West Lafayette in a blizzard and my tire flew off my car as I was driving on I-65. Thankfully I was able to call my dad, who came to my aid.
  • Try not to drive while below half a tank of gas. If the weather is very snowy, you might not know how long you will be on the road, so keep your tank filled so that you can be prepared in case you get stuck.

This winter is supposed to be colder and with more precipitation than usual. If students drive this winter like how they have done in the past, then we will have the same nightmare parking fiasco as we have had in years past.

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