They laugh at us every winter, those doomed to live in lands where winter lasts more than six months and a drive through the ice and snow happens just about half the time you’re on the road. They laugh when a little dusting causes our schools to shut down, our roads to seize up, our grocery stores to run short on bread, eggs and milk.
This winter, a photo of a massive pile-up on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh — with cars skidded to the side of the road and one engulfed in flames — went viral, causing more mirth among the country’s winter people.
Ha ha. We don’t like driving in the snow. As far as I’m concerned, they can have it.
But the thing is, not only do we who live in the South rarely drive in the snow, we are literally unequipped to handle it in large doses.
In cities where it snows regularly, salt trucks and plows consume a sizable chunk of a budget, but if they didn’t clear the streets, commerce and social life would grind to a halt until spring.
In the cities of the Triad, we have enough equipment to clear major roadways, but we usually count on a thaw coming on to clear the rest of it out.
And it usually does. Until it doesn’t.
The past couple winters have crippled the cities of the Triad, largely due to impassable roads, resulting in closed schools, canceled events and millions in damage from wrecked cars. Disclosure: Mine was one of them.
I’m not saying we quickly raise a fleet of vehicles to combat the impending ice-mageddon. But maybe, considering the past few years, we should consider picking up a couple more of those salt trucks. It’s hard to get a straight answer out of the internet, but how much could they possibly cost? $300,000? That’s about 0.1 percent of a city budget. I found a few online that can be mounted on the back of pick-up trucks that run in the low four figures.
Compared to the cost of an unchecked snowstorm — a sudden school closure alone results in hundreds of thousands of lost production hours — surely we can afford the equipment and labor to pull off an overnight street-clearing a couple times a year.
It won’t bring back my car, but maybe this way we can save others.