With the weather sitting down on us literally like impending doom, I often get scared while driving. After all, in the dark recesses of Bureau County it can be difficult to see at night, even when things are perfectly clear. Any good defensive driver bases what they do on the behavior of other motorists on the road. At night, that can be a hard thing to do if folks have forgotten to turn on their lights.
In Princeton, driving behind, past or in front of someone who has not turned their lights on is a pretty common occurrence. Even worse, they seem to not heed the signal from other drivers who flash their lights to warn them. I imagine this is the old lit up gas station problem gone county-wide. Outside of the county seat, Bureau County is pretty dark, which, I imagine, leads a number of drivers to believe their lights are on when they leave a place that is well covered by street and business lighting. The problem is that it could be too far into the out-of-town journey before someone realizes they are a dark horse — something unseen.
I blinked at two cars with my bright lights during a recent Sunday night’s weathering to no avail. The following Tuesday night, as I returned from covering a Princeton Tigress game, all I could think about were ghost cars coming across the bridge as I turned onto Route 34 from Backbone Road. I could hear the crunches of collision as I made the often wary left turn.
Thankfully, there was no crash. As I drove I kept looking for hazard, though seeing through the fog in front of my big old Ford F-350 was hardly possible. When I arrived home, I reported zero visibility.
I have driven through just about every natural disaster you can think of. In 2010, I drove to Nashville from Austin, Texas, for my Dad’s 50th birthday party and ended up caught in one of the largest snowstorms the South has seen in recorded weather history. In 2009, I drove through an expansive wild fire from Los Angeles to Fresno, Calif. When I woke up the next day, my car was covered in a quarter inch of ash. Hurricanes, monsoons, flash floods, tornadoes, dust storms ... I’ve done those as well. But, nothing bothers me more than fog sitting in on top of drizzling rain. Or, snow drifting across the plains in high winds.
Coming home from the game was testy, but hey, I made it. Just remember those headlights, Bureau County. It makes things much less worrisome.
Derek Johnson of Dover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.