Slow and steady wins the race on icePublished 6:05pm Friday, January 31, 2014
Driving around Tallapoosa County during the great snow storm of ‘14, I saw some amazing sights and had a number of eye-opening experiences caused by 2 inches of snow and temperatures in the teens.
I saw a car that left the Walmart parking lot but couldn’t make the on to highway 280. So I got my camera out, and as I was focusing on that car that had slid off the road, two more vehicles collided before my eyes, and I had a photo with two separate accidents recorded in a single frame.
I saw a total of five accidents occur. None of them caused any apparent injuries. Most were cars doing unintentional donuts in the roadway or sliding off the road and shoulder.
I personally pushed two vehicles over icy patches where they had simply stopped and couldn’t get the traction to start again.
The most amazing sight I ran across was two big, muscular pickup trucks tied together with ropes pulling a bright yellow school bus up an icy hill on Highway 280 in Jackson’s Gap.
The first truck, driven by Mannon Sims of the Peckerwood Rescue Squad, roped itself to the front of the bus but couldn’t generate enough force to get the bus up the hill. So when a second pickup drove by and offered to tie up to the first pickup truck still tied to the school bus, I knew something photo-worthy was about to happen.
Someone should have shouted, “Hey, y’all, watch this!”
The two truck drivers and the bus driver applied feet to gas pedals, and the bus started inching up the slick hill.
Then, the pickups started sliding back and forth like two crappie hooked on a double fishing rig. But good old American ingenuity and horse sense prevailed, they towed that bus to the top of the hill, de-roped and the bus went on its way. I’d be afraid to guess the horsepower in that two-truck mule team.
The second most amazing sight I saw was on the steep hill on the Alexander City side of the river bridge late Tuesday afternoon.
It didn’t look amazing at all. In fact, it was boring looking: a huge, orange, two-trailer long-haul truck was stopped halfway up the hill in the right lane.
Cars were going around him on the left, and I got stuck right behind him.
Because I didn’t want to cut in front of anybody in the left lane – and because there was a very wide shoulder on the right – I slowly, carefully pulled around the truck to the right.
And that’s where I saw the second most amazing sight of the snow storm: the tractor trailer wasn’t stopped. Its huge tires were spinning wide open on the black ice just to keep it in place on the hillside.
It could have easily swung to the left or the right on the slippery ice. I got the heck out of there and when I came back later, the truck had somehow managed to get itself out of a very tricky spot.
I’m certainly no expert on driving in icy conditions, but by driving slowly, not too closely to anybody else, being careful on hills and sparingly tapping the brakes, I got around easily.
Other drivers needed a little more practice. I saw one car turn sideways on the highway, then slide to a stop, then start up fish-tailing again and turn sideways in the other direction.
Slooooooooww is the way on ice. It seems that is a lesson most Alabama drivers have yet to master.
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.