Commuter Column: Winter’s Effects

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By Travis Fortounas

Staff Writer

With the season’s first snow on Nov. 15, it’s always a surprise of what kind of wet slushy cold weather it can throw at us.

Winter is a rough season for commuters; snow and ice slow down traffic and can lead to being late or even potentially missing a class. As a commuter, it is very important to leave some extra time for road closings, shoveling and all the other things that come with commuting.

I find it necessary to heat my car up in the morning, as it saves time and is beneficial to the car itself. A cold car in the winter can lead to engine problems and frosted windows. Don’t forget an ice scraper, they can become your best friends when needing to chisel off the ice build up from overnight frost.

Being a commuter for almost three years now has showed me every obstacle winter has to offer. Being conscious of changing road conditions is so important when commuting over an hour. I’ve dealt with road closings, traffic delays and multiple car pile ups during the winter commute; winter is the most dangerous time to commute.

In these kinds of conditions, the size of your car certainly helps. Trucks and SUVs are more accessible on the highway and can handle treacherous road conditions better than small cars. In the long winter days, 4-wheel drive can be your best friend.

If you have a small car like I do, you find it very hard to travel with only a 2-wheel drive transmission; slips and slides are more common due to the minimal traction you have on the road. Your best bet is taking it slow and steady because your life isn’t worth rushing in these kinds of conditions.

Bad weather mixed with heavy traffic during the winter can be a reason for any student to dislike commuting. For me, time management is key to a long commuting day. I wake up over an hour early to check the news for accidents and closed roads. Leaving enough time in the morning to get to where you have to be can be critical when traveling long distances.

This is the time of the year where the dorming students have the advantage over commuting students. It’s easy for them to wake up and walk to class while commuting students wake up hours before they do and
have to deal with all the problems the road has to offer. It’s during times like this when I wish I was a dorming student.

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