Dec 132007
Any time it snows in the south, you can count on a few specific things happening. First, everyone goes to the grocery store to buy milk and bread (you know, for milk sandwiches). Second, your transplanted northern neighbor or friend laughs at that phenomenon (which is justified) and claims that because he’s from the north, he “knows how to drive in snow.” I tell you now, that man is lying. He lies without malice, to be sure—he honestly believes what he just told you. But he does not know how to drive in snow, and most especially he cannot drive safely in snow in the south.

As you probably know, there was a great big snowstorm in the northeast today. Doubtless you are imagining that plows rolled out like clockwork to clear the streets, but that’s not what happened. Instead, as the snow fell, almost all the schools and businesses let out early simultaneously, resulting in what I always think of as the Raleigh Effect, a case of traffic paralysis resulting from an seemingly manageable winter weather event. The source of the problem in this case? Yankees who thought they could drive on snow. The result? Well, traffic was barely moving on South Street. Ralph’s friend spent two hours going one block. And this is in Waltham MA.

The truth is that Yankees can’t drive on snow because they almost never get a chance to learn how. The northeastern states all have very capable infrastructure that usually clears ice and snow off the roads fairly promptly. When that doesn’t happen, in this case because plows can’t clear roads that are full of cars, Yankee drivers are just as helpless as the rest of us. Your Yankee friend probably does know how to drive on roads that are a bit slushy, but he’s almost certainly not equipped to drive on snowy roads in the South, where snowplows and salt trucks are about as common as an egg cream. Do not let him get in his car; he is in danger.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “That may be true of citified Yankees, but what about those who come from the rural regions? They probably know how to drive on the powder.” And you’re right—New Englanders who don’t come from the city are much more likely to be able to drive on actual snow. However, you must not let them drive on snow in the South! They are almost certain to wreck, though not out of any fault of their own. You see, these proud country men and women will get into their vehicles, drive confidently out onto the snowy streets, and promptly be hit by some jackass Southerner who thinks his 4 wheel drive means he knows how to drive in snow. Unless they’re lucky, in which case they’ll get hit by the southerner who thought his Honda was light enough to stay on top of the snow.

This is the painful truth your friend has not yet learned: Most likely, he actually doesn’t know how to drive on a snowy road. Even if he does, this amounts only to overconfidence that will result in an accident due to the inevitable chaos of Southerners (who know even less about driving on snow than city Yankees) trying to get to the store because they’ve run out of fixin’s for their milk sandwiches. Dissuade that man from getting in his car if you can… driving on snow, especially in the South, will only result in dents, dings, or a totaled car.

Posts the next couple of weeks will be sporadic as I get some travel in around the holidays. I shall return with more commentary in the new year.

  3 Responses to “Protip: Yankees can’t drive in snow either”

  1. Hey! Don't knock the milk sandwich till you've had one!
    That being said, snowy roads in the south lead to more "Hold my beer and watch this" deaths than any other known phenomenon, well, besides gator wrasslin'.

  2. Actually the smart Yankees (me, for example) simply know when NOT to drive in the snow. I was dubbed the smartest parent at the daycare because I picked up my son a full hour before the snow started. Go me!

  3. It's funny you should mention gator wrasslin', Matt. Remind me to tell you about Greg Petsko sometime.

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