Archive for the ‘driving’ Tag

“Let” Us?   Leave a comment

Image result for image of fairbanks alaska snow wind stormBrad couldn’t sleep last night (worried about our dog who just had surgery, I think), so he got up really early and checked out some friends on Facebook. He graduated high school in Chappaqua, New York, but he lived all over New England as a kid and still has family there, as well as spending several years in Texas where he also has family.

So he was talking with someone (a friend) who lives back east and telling him how two weeks ago, the temperatures here were 30 below zero, but it’s 30 above now and we got over a half-foot of snow last night. He’d decided I was driving his Jeep to work this morning.

The conversation went from there.

Brad – My wife is driving the Jeep to work this morning so I can fix what caused her car not to work last week during the 30 below.

Of course, Facebook is a “public” forum, so a friend of his friend responded.

Friend Once Removed – I’m surprised they let you drive in that.

  • Friend – Drive in what? Which?

  • Friend Once Removed – Either. It’s dangerous. They should close the roads.

  • Friend – He lives in Alaska. If they did that, they’d spend all winter trapped at home. And they’re used to it.

Brad (responding to “surprised they let you drive in that”) – Let us? There’s no “let” involved. We drive if we darned well want to and accept the risk.

  • Friend Once Removed – The police should arrest anyone who doesn’t obey the law. You don’t have a right to endanger yourselves.

  • Brad – Fella, we live in Alaska, where freedom is a higher priority than being protected by the government.

  • Friend Once Removed – You people are what’s wrong with this country. You endanger all of us with your callous disregard for safety.

At this point, I asked Brad what he was muttering swear words about and he showed me the exchange.

Me – Yeah, I have conversations like that all the time under my Lela account.

Brad – What do you do about it?

Me – Sometimes I embrace the debate in hopes that someone will learn something from it and sometimes I refuse to pick up the rope. Surprisingly, others have started doing that and it feels good to know that people are thinking about liberty issues.

Brad – What should I do about this?

Me – Can I pretend to be you?

Lela Pretending to be Brad – I’m not sure how my driving a 4×4 Jeep through 6 inches of snow in Alaska endangers you when you live in New Jersey. Can’t we both live our lives without trying to control the other?

Friend Once Removed – No, because your “freedom” gives people ideas and those ideas put them in danger.

Me to Brad in the Real World – Leave the rope right there and stop this conversation right now. You can’t win this argument and if you continue he’ll be calling his Congressman insisting that Alaskans be stopped from driving in “dangerous conditions.” Now I’m going to go put on my winter gear over my office clothes and drive that 25-year-old Jeep through the “dangerous conditions” so I can field phone calls from the public who want to know when the roads will be plowed. Fun times!

Which, actually, it was. I LOVE driving that Jeep through snow and the wind just added another flavor – a wild primordial feel that a day of ordinary weather just doesn’t give you.

Posted February 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska, Uncategorized

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Drive It Like You Stole It   Leave a comment

That speed limit sign beside the side of the road may seem arbitrary government caprice … and it most probably is if it reads 55 MPH and has been there for decades.

However, maybe it isn’t. Since Congress lifted the 55 MPH national limit that the Carter Administration Department of Transportation, speed limits on most highways and interstates are set by state DOTs. Is the 85 MPH speed limit on a Texas highway “arbitrary”? According to the Texas DOT website it was determined by road engineers — people who have actually studied highway engineering as a science — who evaluated the average speed of drivers along with the road geometry, prevailing road conditions, the traffic density and other factors to determine the speed limit. Is that arbitrary or is it instructional?

I don’t live in Texas with its flat, wide open spaces. I live in Alaska. Our roads are curvy, mountainous, and frost-heaved. Our pavement is frozen much of the year and moving the rest. Drifting snow, ice fog and short daylight hours reduce our visibility. Wildlife considers highways to be great game trails. The highest posted speed limit in Alaska is 65 MPH.

Is that arbitrary or instructional?

On a hot summer’s day on the Richardson Highway between Fairbanks and North Pole, I could easily drive 75, but the majority of the days in Alaska are winter. At 55 or even 65, I’m pretty sure I could stop in time to avoid a moose collision but at 75 …?????…. People hit moose all the time in that corridor and statistics show that if they’d been going the speed limit, the wreck might have been avoided or at least not been so bad.

Alaska has a large military population. They arrive usually in October, from Georgia and California and they are given no instruction in winter driving. They and their spouses take to our roads and drive in what they insist is a safe manner. In fact, they complain that Alaskan drivers are “horrible”, slow and cautious and we maintain too great a following distance. They express their displeasure by high-speed tailgating until there is an opening in traffic when they roar around us, risking a head-on with opposing traffic. If you get a chance to talk to them, they will insist WE are making them act that way.

Of course, they sing a different tune when one of our infamous Alaskan frost heaves shrugs them off into a ditch and we offer to pull them out. The smart ones are much more contrite than they were when they blew our doors off a mile back. The dumb ones … I leave in the ditch to contemplate their folly.

If all government went away tomorrow, there would still be a practical speed “limit” set by road engineering and conditions like weather and traffic density. And idiots would still exceed the “good sense” limit because idiots always think they’re smarter than those around them.

It’s obvious to them that the driver slowing them down on the road is a lousy driver … until that driver has to pull them out of the ditch.

Posted April 18, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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