Students and teachers reflect on winter driving experiences

As snow accumulates, drivers struggle to navigate icy roads

Em Paquette

As snow accumulates, drivers struggle to navigate icy roads

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Winter is here——days are getting shorter and air is getting colder, but one of the more serious changes that winter brings are how roads become more treacherous to navigate. Students who have driven in a Minnesota winter understand the challenges that come with the poor conditions, but for many new drivers, this is their first time in the snow. With students traveling from many different places to come to school at BSM every morning, the risks of crashing are very prevalent.

For junior Erin Beacom, the first winter of driving was not an easy one. Trying to make a sharp turn with black ice covering the roads led to a smashed bumper and popped tires. Although the repairs were costly, her dad was just glad she was safe. “I was driving from my dad’s house on a snowy day. I slowed down for a turn but my car kept sliding, and it ran over a small sign. My left tires were popped, and I had to get a new left front bumper,” Beacom said.

Icy streets and rushed driving do not work well together. Senior Jack Hower learned that after he crashed into a fence going too fast so he could make it to school on time. “I was driving to school, and I was running late, so I was going 35 mph down my street and tried to make a quick turn, but I couldn’t brake because it was too icy, so I drove straight into a chain link fence. It tore off half my bumper. This was last winter, and the fence is still not fixed,” Hower said.

Even though speeding often causes accidents in snow, accidents can also happen going slowly. Senior Grace Ryan had a scary experience driving in the winter storms, but came out okay. “I was driving at 5 mph down a road that was extremely icy. All of a sudden, the car slid off the road and onto a frozen pond. Long story short, both my friend and I and the car made it back home safely,” Ryan said. 

While teachers have been driving much longer than students, accidents still happen. Science teacher Lisa Bargas had a very eventful driving experience while she was still getting used to Minnesota roads. “ It was my second winter living in Minnesota.  I was heading to take a law school final. Driving east over a bridge on 94, I hit black ice. I had never even heard of black ice. My car spun twice, hit a guardrail, I saw the front bumper of the car pop off the front of the car like a bottle cap. I saw it fly over the hood and roof of the car, and I saw that I was going to hit the cement abutment with the now bumperless front end of the car, tried to steer out of it, ended up heading west into traffic. Luckily, the people who were behind me saw the whole thing and slowed down and moved to left-most lane. I got out of the car, and another driver picked me up immediately to get me off the bridge,” Bargas said.

Living in Minnesota, many people have stories of driving in the winter that did not end well. Luckily, everyone in these stories survived. When driving with snow and ice, it’s important to remember to always go slow, no matter the situation, because it’s better to be late than to get in an accident.

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