Why these NJ drivers should never operate a 4-wheel-drive
When it comes to driving in New Jersey, there are some of us that wish others would never be allowed behind the wheel. It's bad enough that accidents are caused by those who are either incompetent or just don't care about safety.
It's a shame, but it's also the reality of it. And not just in New Jersey, but anywhere for that matter.
New Jersey's situation is amplified, however, mainly because of how densely populated we are. And that directly influences how packed our roads are.
It's bad enough we have these drivers, but the situation only gets worse when you throw bad weather into the mix. Extra slick roads, in particular, trip up some drivers.
Now to be fair, not every driver who gets into an incident is necessarily a bad driver. But they may be overconfident on the road simply because of the kind of vehicle they drive.
Think about how many times you might've seen that. Someone with a four-wheel-drive speeding by you when road conditions don't warrant it.
It happens in the rain enough. But when it comes to snow, it can just be downright dangerous.
I've seen it a handful of times myself. I remember one in particular years ago that occurred in Monmouth County.
I think it might've been back in 2005, but I can't remember for sure. It was during a snowstorm that happened to strike during the afternoon rush.
I was on Route 18 south just crossing Route 9. That's the point where Route 18 becomes a freeway heading toward Marlboro.
Right around the Route 9 overpass, there was a full-sized SUV that went speeding by in the left lane. Now to paint the picture, the snow was falling heavily enough in that area to where it was covering the road a bit.
I also had a four-wheel-drive SUV at the time, but mine was a mid-size. But even so, I went really easy because I didn't want to lose control while driving in the snow and slush.
In other words, I drive easily even though I have a vehicle that can handle the conditions better. One thing some don't realize is even though you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and better traction, braking is still the same.
So if you're going really fast and you suddenly hit a very slippery spot, you risk skidding out of control. I was a passenger with someone once who drove too fast on slick roads and spun his vehicle around, almost taking out a telephone pole.
Ever since that, I find myself driving very easily in turns, especially in the rain even though I wasn't the driver in that incident. That driver also had four-wheel drive but took the turn way too fast, and that memory stuck with me.
So when I saw this SUV driving as fast as they were in the snow, I didn't want to be anywhere near it with the fear that it might spin out into me.
So they sped ahead on Route 18 South in the Marlboro area eventually getting out of view. Again, maybe I could've been able to go as fast as them since I also had a four-wheel drive, but I didn't want to risk it.
And how do I know this SUV that passed me had four-wheel drive? It was listed on the back of the vehicle where the brand is normally stamped.
So I'm driving down the freeway, along with some other cars that are taking it easy. About five miles further, I suddenly see skid marks going off the road and onto the center median.
And which vehicle was stuck in the middle with nowhere to go? That very same SUV that thought they were invincible earlier on.
It didn't look like anyone was hurt, and the vehicle appeared undamaged. I'm glad it ended up that way, it could've been much worse.
But that just goes to show that even people with four-wheel drive can still lose control when it comes to braking. Yes, you have more traction, but that won't help in a slick and potentially icy situation when trying to stop quickly.
So consider this a friendly PSA to anyone who drives four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles on slick or snow-covered roads. It doesn't always matter when it comes to braking, so please don't get overconfident and just take it easy.
And if you can't control yourself with such a vehicle, then perhaps you should never be allowed to operate a four-wheel drive.
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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.