It only took a few hours on a single night to remind all of us that with pending winter comes treacherous weather.
On Saturday evening, precipitation came - both rain and snow - and temperatures dropped. The result was black ice. The kind that hides and sneaks underneath the tires of unsuspecting drivers. It can be downright scary.
Our newsroom police scanner was going off repeatedly Saturday evening with reports of accident after accident. Many were about vehicles off the road, some flipped. Many of the accidents occurred on overpasses and bridges. Some were chain accidents involving multiple drivers.
The turn in bad driving conditions likely caught most of us by surprise. Certainly included in that would be those listed in the stack of accident reports at the highway patrol and other safety service offices. Insurance agents will be busy today dealing with claims. And tow truck drivers had their best day in awhile on Saturday.
Ironically, even though 2011 is going down as the wettest calendar year on record, we haven't had much ice and snow yet. Which is very unusual considering it is mid-December but also because the past six, seven years have been the snowiest on record. You've got to figure it's coming by the shovelful. It always does.
Winter officially arrives Thursday. But many drivers literally got a crash course in winter driving this past Saturday. Many accidents can't be avoided. But highway patrol, sheriff, township and police officers will all agree that many accidents can be avoided. All of us should take a mental refresher course and remind ourselves that driving right now isn't like driving during warmer weather.
We can never over emphasize the need to slowly drive during bad weather. Maintain assured distance and then some. And for goodness sake, please don't text and use hand-held phones at all while driving. Especially during dangerous driving conditions.
We've all heard those words of advice many times. Still many seem to disregard if not ignore them. Just ask the patrol officers and tow truck drivers. Saturday was just the start of winter driving in our area. We know it's coming and we have been through it before. Just remember that you can never be too cautious driving in the bad stuff.