|Photo courtesy of The Juneau Empire|
Ok, I feel like I need to start by saying I love Juneauites. It’s true. I do. I love living here and all the things we lack that many people complain about don’t really aggravate me all that much. I figure the tradeoff is reasonable. However, I do have one frustration about this small slice of wonderful. I hate Juneau drivers. They are the worst drivers I’ve ever had to share pavement with. Weather conditions, good or bad, seem to make little difference. I theorize it’s because most have been limited to this small stretch of road most of their lives. When you have to share the interstate with people driving 80 or 90 mph you figure out real fast that staying alive requires a person to pay real close attention to what the hell is going on and make decisions accordingly.
Unfortunately, drivers in Juneau are bad on the rare occasion the roads are dry and the sky is clear. For example, why is the slow lane the fast lane and vise versa? Seriously people if you’re not keeping up with the flow of traffic get out of the passing lane, yeah that’s the left lane just in case you were confused. Though this is a common point of frustration things are fundamentally worse when the roads are impaired by weather.
FYI—four-wheel drive does not make you invincible. I can't help but find humor in a shitty, self-satisfied sort of way when I’m driving down Egan mid winter and I see three or four trucks or SUV’s in the median. Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?! Just because you have the ability to put your vehicle in four-wheel drive doesn’t mean you’ve been endowed with invincibility. C’mon, use a little common sense. If there’s ice on the road and a nice layer of water on top of that ice shit’s still slick even if you’ve got control of all four wheels. So, don’t be speeding and don’t be weaving in and out of traffic.
Same thing goes for studded tires. Those little metal studs are only gonna do so much and then some common sense is gonna have to kick in. Slow the hell down! It's better to be late then dead, right? If it’s icy and windy and the majority of traffic is driving 35-45 mph there’s probably a reason and when you slide into the ditch I hope you’re not sitting there confused wondering why. Here’s the thing. If you want to risk your own life that's entirely up to you. But, don’t be a selfish and risk the lives of others.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not the poster child for all things DMV. When the roads are dry I enjoy driving over the speed limit too. Speeding is in my genetic coding, but I’ve learned to be an interactive driver and do my best to stay smart and not risk others around me. You can’t simply drive offensively you have to drive defensively and to some degree anticipate the choices and actions of the drivers around you. That can be challenging here because some of the drivers are entirely unpredictable. However, despite my predilections towards speeding, when it comes to increment weather I’m uber cautious. I’m not looking to hurt you and I’m not looking to hurt me. If that means I have to get out of bed and sacrifice that extra thirty minutes of glorious sleep, I will. The bottom line is I want to stay alive and if that means I need an extra ten to fifteen minutes worth of cush to get to work downtown so be it. I’ll just need 16 oz of Deadman’s instead of my usual 12 oz.