I'm not sure why, but it seems that whenever the first snow falls, everyone continues to drive as if they're still driving in the middle of summer. Plain and simple, they drive hail-bent (this is a family newspaper) for leather, thus ignoring the fact that snow, ice and rain increase the risk of having an accident. Even worse, having a serious injury. It's as if they recognize the ice or snow falling, piling up on the road, and accumulating enough to turn the road into a slippery ice skating rink. But for some reason it doesn't register.


It's true, their bodies may be well seated behind the wheel, seat belt attached and driving down some icy slick road in Northeast Ohio faster that a walnut rolling off a hen house roof. But their minds are not with them. What little gray matter they may still have crammed between their ears must have placed them somewhere on a secluded beach. Perhaps on an island in the South Pacific basking on a warm, white, sandy beach while overlooking clear blue waters, enjoying light, balmy, breezes and soaking in the warm tropical sun to their heart's delight.


Wake up, folks. Wake up and slow down! You're still in Northeast Ohio under the influence of the Great Lakes. This is where winter begins just before Halloween in October and ends shortly after Mother's Day in May – or as close to those dates as possible. In between, any day could bring showers, sleet, hail, rain, ice storms, snow and even blizzards.


As we've all told others who have been here for the first time, “We live under the 'Lake Effect.' In other words, if you don't like the weather right now, hang around for an hour or two.”


Driving top speed on snowy, icy or even slick rainy roads is a recipe for disaster. Slow down and don't tailgate. If you're late for whatever, hey, you're already late. How does driving faster help? Speeding will only put you and others in more danger It. will never get you there in time.


Use your God given common sense. That's why He gave it to us. Depending on the condition of the road surface, it takes a minimum of twice as long to stop on surfaces caused by inclement weather than it does on dry roads. In addition to the road conditions, keep your eyes on the traffic.


Art Raynard of Green is a physical therapist with Summa Health Systems. His job takes him from one home to another five days a week. He administers physical therapy to those who are home bound and can't maneuver as well as healthy folks can. “Some drivers must think they're still driving on summer-time roads,” he said. “They speed, tailgate and pass other cars in either heavy traffic or no passing zones during inclement weather and don't understand the dangers. Worse, they don't realize the risks at which they're putting other drivers and passengers.”


What's that? You say you have new snow tires. Good for you. But don't let them give you a false sense of security. Even snow tires won't safely stop a fast moving car on icy roads as well as it will on snowy or dry ones. And unless you walk on the road surface, you really can't tell how slick it is. Bridges are even worse. They will fool you. Cold air rushing under the bridge freezes the top surface faster than it does a normal road.


Finally, the most important reason is our children. They hop off the school bus but rarely pay attention to traffic. That's because their minds are filled with other matters, such as sports, lessons, band, tests, glee club or that special boy or girl they noticed recently. You and I were once their ages.


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