Winter is coming?
By Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 18, 2015
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Winter is coming; and although winter at Vandenberg means something completely different than northern bases, there are still hazards to be cognizant of while driving.
Military members move around a lot, I realize the 'no duh' factor in that statement is high, but bear with me for a moment. I, like many of my military brethren, have driven in all sorts of climates. Most recently I drove in the frigid abandoned wasteland of the Midwest. Although I consider myself to be a good driver, I have destroyed a few vehicles due to weather and distracted driving - both of which could probably have been prevented.
The first incident happened when I was driving a school bus and a young driver pulled out in front of me on the highway. I found out later she was still learning to drive and was talking to her mom, who was also in the car. Needless to say, the car she was driving was 'T-boned' by the bus; fortunately no one was seriously hurt.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nine people are killed every day, and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
That statistic is too high to ignore, especially in the media-soaked-cellphone-savvy culture we live in. The odds are high that someone will be texting, tweeting, taking selfies, or even filming a video - while driving.
Two weeks after that first collision, I was behind the wheel of a Camry, driving through Iowa on a clear day with a bit of slush on the road. I hit a patch of ice, started sliding, and rolled twice into the ditch. One of two lessons is possible from these situations. Either I really am a horrible driver and have been living in denial, or I am a decent driver and weather conditions and distraction aggravated the situations. I am hoping it is the latter. Regardless, either situation was preventable by avoiding distraction and driving the correct speed for the weather conditions.
'What does this have to do with me and Vandenberg?' you may be thinking. We may not have ice and snow, but we have more deer than you can shake a snowy plover at, and fog that's thicker than Hagrid's beard. As much as I hate to admit it, I have been cut off by other drivers that didn't see me, and have almost hit deer... several times.
Not to mention, when I am driving off base and the rain starts, everyone acts like the apocalypse has started. And with the drought, seeing rain in California has been almost as rare as seeing Sasquatch. Those days appear to be at an end however, with El Nino making an entrance. As the less-than-typical California weather transpires, be aware of other drivers, be aware of the deer, which hopefully aren't driving, and most importantly, be aware of yourself.