Students compare driving conditions between North, South

by Staff Writer Melissa Parker

People in the South are the subject of many jokes, especially when bad weather hits and the town shuts down. Southerners rush out to buy their coveted bread and milk and often end up in a ditch.

Some students welcomed the break from classes and enjoyed playing in the snow.

Sophomore Huong Heidi Pham, from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, said she was fascinated by the snow and excited to build her first snowman during the inclement weather break.

“We do not have snow back in my country,” Pham said. “Outside was so pretty, just like in fairy tales or some old movies I used to watch when I was still in Vietnam.”

Junior Elana Rebholz, who moved to Florence from Pontiac, Illinois, said she thinks it is funny people in the South panic when it snows.

“In Illinois, we get to about 6 inches, and even then people don’t freak out,” she said. “But here I feel when people are driving, everyone is a little freaked out.”

Sophomore and former New Jerseyan Molly Ezell said there are several differences in how the South tackles the weather.

“One of the big differences is northerners have a lot more road equipment,” she said. “They definitely have cleaner roads when it does snow.”

Once the snow stops and roads are clear, people in the North can go wherever they want, she said, but living in a rural area in the South means being trapped for a few days while waiting for the roads to get taken care of.

“They don’t realize up north that southerners don’t have the equipment,” she said. “So they do tend to laugh at us when we do wreck.”

Janet McMullen, associate professor of communications, said she grew up in Indiana watching her parents drive on ice and snow and learned how to do it.

“I think experience is the key word,” McMullen said.

In Florence there are no opportunities to learn to drive in the snow, she said. When a bad storm comes through town there are going to be accidents, and someone will lose his or her life or be seriously injured because of lack of experience.

“Maybe we overreact a little bit, but given where we are and the level of experience, I didn’t want to be out until the ice was gone,” she said.

Many people in the South, who may not be used to driving in snow and ice, drive the normal speed even when roads are bad, Ezell said. Northern drivers know to slow down.

“In a lot of ways the danger comes more from other drivers than it does the actual ice on the road,” she said.

Junior Tavarus Wheat from Chicago said people should wait until it is safe to be out.

“Don’t go out and drive on icy roads,” he said. “You can’t see. That’s anywhere.”

Pham said getting around campus was difficult when there was ice on

the ground.

“It was hard even to walk,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine driving on an icy road.”

Wheat said he thinks officials need to be patient and not cancel classes too early.

“UNA closed school twice before the snow hit the ground,” he said. “We don’t get snow days in Chicago.”

McMullen said she sees all of her students as “her kids” and offers guidance in safety when the bad weather hits.

“I tell my students when it gets slippery, make sure you’ve got a blanket in your car,” she said. “And throw a bag of Kitty Litter in the trunk for extra traction if you get stuck.”