In this seemingly endless winter, we don’t need lectures about driving in ice and snow.
Or, maybe some of us do.
Local police, the Iowa State Patrol and those in the business of auto-body repair confirm something many of us find menacing and irksome.
Some four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicle owners are under the incorrect presumption that, because they can go, they also can stop.
“A four-wheel drive vehicle might even stop a little slower, because they’re larger, heavier vehicles,” Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dan Loussaert said Tuesday. “They also can be more likely to roll, because they have a slightly higher center of gravity.”
John Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Body Shop in Davenport, said he doesn’t necessarily see more four-wheel and all-wheel-drive vehicles in his shop this time of year, but he has the same anecdotal experience as many of us.
He described driving under the speed limit on Interstate 80 between Davenport and LeClaire recently and being passed by a four-wheel drive vehicle with a driver who seemed oblivious to the slippery road conditions.
“He gives you the one-finger salute, and a half-mile down the road, you can wave at him as he’s down in the ditch,” he said.
But crash statistics don’t seem to align with personal experiences.
“Our business sales (in the body shop) are directly related to traffic count, but I can’t say we get more four-wheel drive vehicles,” Arnold said. “(Tuesday), traffic count is down, because fewer vehicles are on the road than yesterday when people were rushing to the grocery store.”
Detective Michael Griffin, spokesman for the Moline Police Department, said his agency responded to 19 assist-motorist calls Monday, but they all involved two-wheel drive vehicles.
Loussaert said some of the troubles for two-wheel drive vehicles are caused by those in a four-wheel drive.
“All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles (when going faster than the rest of traffic) are putting themselves and others at risk because they are overly confident in their vehicles,” the trooper said. “In messes like we have now, they’re throwing slush at people at those high speeds.”
And here’s another dangerous factor that doesn’t discriminate between vehicles: Snow and slush in cold weather gets packed into the treads of our tires.
“When that happens, it’s like driving on tires that don’t have any tread at all,” Arnold said. “Four-wheel drive is great for getting you out when you’re stuck in snow up to the hubs of your wheels.
“However, there is absolutely no correlation in your ability to stop or steer, whether you have two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.”
Loussaert had this advice: “Traveling is the most dangerous thing any person does every day. Be respectful of others, wear your seat belt and don’t drive if you don’t have to.”
And that goes for everybody.