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Matthew Jelalian: Don’t forget how to drive in the snow

December 30, 2018
Matthew Jelalian poses for a portrait in the Daily Herald studio on Friday, March 6, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

I had the opportunity to do some associate producing work for radio this week. The guy who normally does it was on vacation for the holidays.

For two days in a row, I had to get up at 2 in the morning to drive to Salt Lake so I could get to the station in time to start preparing for the morning show.

The hours are terrible but the work is fun.

The first day I got up was Wednesday.

That morning I got up, got dressed, went outside and was met by the snow that we were supposed to have on Christmas. Not only was the snow a day late and a dollar short, but thanks to the timing of it all, it was all over the roads.

Which means I got to drive in it for the next hour.

When I hopped on the freeway I went a lot slower than I normally do, and I made sure I started braking ridiculously early during the few occasions I had to stop. Other than the occasional slip and slide, I was able to follow the faint car tracks of past cars and make it to the station without incident.

On the way home from work that day, however, traffic slowed to a crawl just before Lehi. What I found out was that traffic was so bad because, at some point, a car lost control, hit a semi, which caused the semi to swerve and fall onto its side.

Have you ever seen a truck that size on its side? It’s kind of like looking at a beached whale.

During those couple of days I worked those early morning shifts, I found that many of Utah’s residents had experiences that were more like my drive home than my drive to work.

As of Thursday, authorities have reported that Utah has seen over 150 some-odd crashes. In addition to these, as I write this, various news outlets are reporting on a 16- to 20-car pile up on the SR-201.

Now, I understand that when road conditions are less than ideal that we should expect to see an uptick in crashes, but this seems to go beyond what I’d expect to see.

This is just insanity.

Utah is known for having some of the best powder in the world. Olympic athletes come here to train in our mountains all of the time. It snows every single year. It’s part of the natural order of things in the Beehive state.

How is it that so many people forget how to drive in snow?

One would assume that we’d all be experts at driving in the snow but the numbers tell us a different story. If anything the numbers tell me that summer heat must have an amnesia-like effect on the mind because every year, we collectively learn how to drive in snow only to forget how a year later.

Actually, this theory might not be that far off. Especially when you consider the amount of material which school children forget over the course of summer break.

Somebody get me a Nobel Peace Prize, I think I just found a major climate-related problem that affects human biology.

Dumb jokes aside, auto accidents are a serious problem and getting into a car crash while there’s snow on the ground does not make it a whimsical winter wonderland experience. They still suck.

Let me take the space I have left and urge my fellow Utahns to drive safely.

Driving in the snow can be tricky, but most of the time it doesn’t have to be.

Just leave early, slow down, brake sooner, and pay attention to what’s going on around you.

This isn’t Alabama. A little bit of precipitation shouldn’t bring on the four horsemen of the Snowpocalypse. We should be able to go from point A to point B without overturning a semi.

We should be better than this and we can be better than this.

If you want to go careening into another car or cement median for fun, that’s your prerogative, but do it on someone’s personal property with their permission. Don’t do it on the freeway where it might affect others.

Thanks to some faulty steering, I was able to unintentionally experience some metal on concrete action a couple years ago, and I have to tell you, it’s not really that fun.

If there was ever a time to blindly accept what I say, it’d be now.

Car crashes are terrible.

Hopefully, by this point, we got all of our collective bad driving out of our system and can start acting like it’s winter outside.

I don’t know about you, but I have a wife and a kid with another on the way. I’d like to stick around so I could watch my kids’ future soccer games, piano recitals and embarrassing teen haircuts if at all possible.

But to do all of that, I’m going to need some help from you guys.

Please, just please, don’t forget how to drive in the snow. My kids need a dad.

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