Speeding in winter: It’s just not worth the risk

It’s a scenario we all know well.

You’re driving down the road, discussing the merits of your favorite band with your significant other, and you check your mirrors to see what’s behind you.

That’s when you notice that tan truck that was a few car-lengths back just a glance ago is right up on your little hatchback.

You check your speedometer to make sure you haven’t slowed down. You haven’t. You’ve actually been driving the speed limit the entire time. But that truck is not content with 55 mph, or 45 mph, or 25 mph. Its driver needs to go more than 10 mph over the speed limit just to get to a fast-food drive-thru window two minutes sooner than he would have otherwise.

This is a scenario I’ve been finding myself facing almost daily. And it’s February. In the Upper Peninsula. This is supposed to be the time of year when we all driver slower, not faster.

I really try to give you speeders the benefit of the doubt, but not all of you can be having a medical emergency or be rushing to the hospital to be there before the baby is born.

Not all of you can be racing home to help put out a house fire.

Not all of you can be running late for work – which really is a poor excuse to speed anyway. That’s like people running to class after the bell rang. What’s the point? You’re already late.

In the summer time, it’s not so bad. I’ve gotten used to people passing me. I was the sad recipient of a speeding ticket a number of years ago, and I pretty much haven’t sped since then. I learned my costly lesson.

So when people are riding my tail as I drive 25 mph down Fourth Street, or Third Street – two roads I would be loathe to speed down anyway simply because of the number of pedestrians around and road intersections I drive through – I get irritated.

And riding the back of my car won’t make me go any faster. In fact, I’m more inclined to slow down, just to irritate you more than you’re irritating me, because at 25 mph, getting rear-ended isn’t necessarily dangerous. It’s just expensive.

But getting rear-ended on M-28 is not an experience I’d like to have. And I’m convinced that sometime soon, someone is going to slam into my car on my way home from work as I slow down because a vehicle in front of me is turning and the vehicle behind me was tailgating. Or someone is going to slide out of control in the opposite lane as they fly by me on a snowy day because nothing less than 65 mph will do.

Neither of those things are experiences I want to have. I don’t want to go sailing into the ditch after being hit from behind, and I don’t want to watch someone else sail off either.

Driving that fast is dangerous, especially at this time of year, when snow and ice make for less than ideal road conditions on an almost daily basis. And before we all impugn young drivers as the crazy ones, let’s be clear that speeders exist in every age group.

It’s February folks. Everyone needs to slow down. Because it’s not just you that’s at risk when you drive like a maniac. It’s me and my husband and every other person on the road.

It may be worth it to you to drive 15 mph over the speed limit to get to your friend’s house a little earlier. But it isn’t to anybody else.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net