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Operational Neurasthenia

It’s reasonable to adjust speed for conditions – snow, for instance. But what about drivers who drop their speed because it might snow later?

Road (and school) closings, not because it is snowing. Because it’s possible it may.

This appears to be the latest manifestation of the hysterical – in the psychiatric sense – overfixation on saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety which has become the leitmotif of Red Giant Stage America. The slightest threat of snow – or rain, for that matter – triggers almost comical overcompensatory measures, no longer restricted the traditional idiocy of bum-rushing to the supermarket to clear the shelves of bread and milk.

In the case of rumored snow, there’s a noticeable increase in the usual hypercaution behind the wheel. The sky is clear – and so are the roads – but you’ll roll up behind drivers behaving as though there was a blizzard in process. The Phantom Menace – and it’s not a movie.

These might-as-well-be nearsighted Little Old Ladies – of all ages and sexes – drive even slower than the usual slow – slowing even more if the road curves even slightly. It might be faster to walk.

If you pass one of these people, they’ll often lay on the horn, flash their lights uproariously.

Why?

They are the ones doing 36 in a 45.

In a car – typically – with all-wheel-drive and always with ABS and traction control. The “safer” the car, the more fearful and hypercautious its driver. This is a remarkable inversion. Most people over 40 or so today can remember when rear-wheel-drive cars were the dominant type of car – and these lacked ABS and traction control. They were far less capable of maintaining traction – and stopping competently – on rain or snow-slicked roads.

But their drivers were generally more competent – which more than compensated. They grokked such things as momentum, anticipating – how to deal with a skid and most important of all, how to avoid one.

It did take skill, of course – and that presumes a willingness to develop it as well as native capacity and the inequality which attends the latter. And we all know how “society” regards those things today. Driving has been short-bused just as everything else is being leveled to the least common denominator, which is way down the well.

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