Got A Gig This Hazardous Winter Weekend? Five Questions To Ask Before You Hit The Road!

Winter is hitting the Midwest pretty hard this weekend and it doesn't seem to be showing any signs of letting up so, depending on where you were, driving conditions can be downright dangerous.  Just prior to writing this, we made a quick grocery run and what would have normally taken twenty minutes turned into an hour-long aborted journey because some yahoo decided to jack-knife across four lanes of traffic.

1. How well do you drive under normal conditions?

I know we all think we're good drivers, conveniently forgetting to take off points for the "sly" road texting and eating in the car that we do, but if you need two hands to count the number of "minor fender benders" you've had in the last two years, you might want to stop calling yourself Romeo Andretti.
You know who you are, Mr. Dan Ryan Maniac, whipping by at 90mph when flow-of-traffic is a respectable 75, weaving in and out of lanes like we're all obstacles in your own true-to-scale video game.

I cackle like a demonic overlord upon seeing the occasional Maniac pulled over by the fuzz a few miles down the road.  "Thank you, officer!"

By simply admitting our short-comings and employing common sense, at the very least, you won't be a nuisance to other drivers when road conditions shit the bed.

2. How well do you know your vehicle?

Doesn't matter how great a driver you are if you don't know you're vehicle and what it can or cannot do in challenging winter road conditions.  If you've had your vehicle less than a year, it's highly likely that your tires have never touched slush, in which case you have no idea how your vehicle handles in ice and snow.  The best time to find out is during the fall, when it rains often enough for you to become familiar with any fixable issues your vehicle may exhibit.

The most fixable condition is TIRES.

If you're tires are bald or going bald in April or June, that might not be an issue, but bald tires in a snowstorm is a recipe for disaster.  You wouldn't be the first person to realize too late that you've been driving on crappy tires, but most of the others are dead.  I hate to be so matter-of-fact, but this really is life-and-death stuff here.

If your budget's shot-to-hell, I cannot stress enough the idea of checking out used tires.  Going into winter with a barely used set of threads for the band van at a fraction of the price of new tires is better than skating on baldies.

3. How rationally can  respond when someone who shouldn't be allowed near heavy machinery under the best of conditions decides to do something that would be stupidly dangerous in the best of conditions and completely homicidal today?

People are idiots.  I say that as someone who pulls 3-4 stupid moves a year, one or two of which have me thankful for the patience of fellow drivers.  People here might think this is a crazy thing to say, but I became a great winter driver during my ten years in Los Angeles.

For the first couple years I was out there, the abominable number of shitty drivers was driving me crazy until a buddy and fellow L.A. driver said, "Dude, you just gotta treat it like a video game and everything you see on the screen is out to fuck up your day."  For some reason, that stuck with me and I've never looked back.
By learning to anticipate the unexpected, you too can excel on the roads when others are digging themselves out of ditches.

4. How well can you skate?

That might seem like a crazy question, but who hasn't hit a patch of black ice and felt momentarily helpless?  Knowing what to do when the roads turn into a sheet of ice could be the difference between life and death.   The most important aspect of driving in the ice and snow is to maintain your momentum and to not make any sudden actions like accelerating quickly or slamming on your breaks.   Slow and steady wins the race, so to speak.  Although using the word "race" is just asking for trouble.

Every winter, we always seem to hear about one or two serious accidents involving our rock & roll brethren. Whether gigging out-of- state or merely across the city, anticipate the worst, hope for the best, and arrive alive!

5. Have you driven the band van before?

Yeah, we know, it's cool to be a team player, rah rah, but during a blizzard is no time to drive the band van for the first time.  Trust us.  Better to bite the bullet and get a room at the Motel 6 than throw an inexperienced driver into whiteout conditions.
Stay safe, plan ahead, and let this be the first winter to see all bands and vans arrive safely at their destinations.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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