Indiana needs better drivers, not more salt

Indiana winters have never been something too much to complain about. They pale in comparison to winters in Chicago, Wisconsin and Ohio.

However, every year, we all whine about the pathetic amounts of snow we accumulate.

Early last week, Indianapolis was hit with an ice storm that covered every inch of Butler’s campus with more than an inch of ice. It shut down not only campus, but most of Indianapolis.

When I was finally was able to venture off campus, I realized what Indiana needs isn’t more salt or a bigger budget to combat winter weather, we need specialized driving courses for adverse weather conditions.

I expected the roads to be a bit dicey. I also expected that my speedometer wouldn’t see above 30 miles an hour until I hit Meridian Street.

I was right about that.

Side roads were as slick as an ice skating rink, but once I hit Meridian, the street was completely clear, as expected.

What I didn’t expect was the level of driving on the completely clear roads to be as bad as it had been on unplowed ones.

Drivers around me chugged along slowly, slamming on their brakes for no reason while others accelerated aggressively. Amidst all of this chaos, solid sheets of ice were detaching from the roofs of cars and flying haphazardly through the air.

At this point, I felt like Frogger. Instead of dodging semi trucks, I was dodging three inch sheets of ice that were hurdling toward my car.

I know regularly that we don’t get ice storms. This is the first one I’ve experienced in almost 20 years. But it’s an issue when driving with other cars on the road is more dangerous than the ice storm itself.

Although our winters are generally not this severe, I’m beginning to think it’s necessary that the state adds a section into the driving exam covering winter driving techniques.

Maybe if people knew to counter-steer when sliding perilously on a sheet of ice, they would be less likely to slam into telephone poles, causing power outages. Maybe if people knew not to slam on the brakes or gas, it would dramatically reduce the risk of a fender bender and the roads would be safer.

I know the state can’t do all the work for Indiana drivers. A big portion of driving in adverse weather conditions is common sense. There comes a time when drivers have to realistically look at their cars and determine if it is even worth it to try to get out, and if their cars are even properly equipped to deal with the snow and ice on the roads.

Being house-bound in a snow storm is exceedingly aggravating. All I ever think about is how many more exciting things I could be doing outside the house, even if it means risking crashing my car into a ditch.

The difference is that I don’t leave in the midst of a snow storm. People who do have always baffled me. As tempting as the outside world may seem during a snowstorm, it  has never been tempting enough to inspire me to risk my car, my life or the life of another just to quell boredom.

While I love the snow storms that cancel classes and shut down the city, I loathe the thought of driving in these conditions with hundreds of other people who seemingly have no idea what to do.