mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Skiddin' out in the PT...

Yesterday, Baltimore had some "wintery mix" - which sounds like something you would feed your polar bear, but is actually weather reporter's generic term for any mix of snow, rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice, hail, and toads falling from the sky. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday (verdict: just a cold) and was driving back. Most of the drive was smooth, until I got to the ramp going from southbound 83 to Druid Lake Park Drive - and realized that traffic was stopped. Slammed on the brakes, and they locked up and the car skidded. Leaned on the brakes and stopped with about a car lenght to spare. Then realized that whoever was behind me might not have the same combination of luck, skill, and ABS and traction control. Luckily, the Civic behind me managed to stop without hitting me.

When I was able to crawl ahead, I discovered why traffic had slowed - a black Ford pickup had spun 180 degrees and smacked into the side wall. And about a mile down 83 around the same time, a guy was killed when he lost control of his pickup merging on 83 from North Avenue.

So MadAnthony's driving tip of the day - BRIDGE (and ramps) FREEZE BEFORE ROAD SURFACE.

But it also brings an intersting point. Economist Gordon Tullock once said that the best way to make cars safer would be to put a giant spike in the steering wheel - the idea being that it would give people an incentive to drive carefully, since they don't want to become a kabob. He had done some research that showed that as cars safety improved, deaths didn't drop significantly, probably because people took more risks driving because they knew that they had more protection in case of an accident.

I've noticed I have a tendency in my own traction control and ABS equipped car to do that - to step on the gas at a stoplight in wet weather and let the traction control kick in, or slam on the brakes in icy weather. Part of it might just be that I'm a shitty driver, but I do feel like I drove somewhat more conservatively when I had my previous car, a 10-year old LeBaron that would hydroplane if there was a cloud in the sky.

On the other hand, I had the LeBaron while I was a high school and college student (when I lived on-campus), so I didn't really need to drive in bad weather much, so that might be part of it.


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