I spent part of mid-day at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City. On my way there the roads began to get icy in the city. I saw one wreck (a pickup pulling a trailer jacknifed on an overpass) and fish-tailed a bit myself. (I was driving the smaller church van, a 1989 Ford Aerostar that looks like it has driven every one of its many miles.)

Leaving the hospital about 1:30, the drive out of the city was bad. Every overpass had at least one wreck; occasionally fellow drivers would fishtail or even slide sideways. It took me about an hour to get out of town. (I followed a plan of bypassing overpasses by using service roads.) Then, we had icy conditions for the next 30 miles; I had to stop once to bang the ice off the windshield wipers so that they would function properly. The last 30 miles were OK. Glad was I to get home.

The majority of vehicles that wrecked seemed to be 4WD pickups. We do, of course, has a lot of pickups on the roads (maybe not quite as high a percentage as Texas). But four-wheel-drive pickups seemed over-represented in the wrecks. I think I know why. (cont. below)

Pickups are, of course, inherently unstable on ice (or at high speeds on dry pavements) because the back end is so light compared to the front end unless hauling a load. A lot of drivers seem unaware that while 4WD has a big advantage in snow over 2WD, the advantage on ice is much, much less. And, not every Okie seemed to know that you do not ask your tires to do more than one thing at a time on ice: do not try to change speeds and direction at the same time. I guess most folks do not have a good feel for their machines, and their limits.

But I put most of the blame on the drivers. Americans wrapped in steel, sitting up high, commanding large horsepower, and using 4WD feel invulnerable, I think. The external environment can be ignored. (That's how they do it on the TV commercials.) I can drive when and where and how I want. My will is supreme and unchecked: until the brute reality of ice and physics dent the illusion. Last week I observed that lawns along University Avenue in Tempe, smack in the desert, had green grass growing supported by sprinkler systems. Same attitude: we will do what we want and make the world conform. Yes, Virginia, there is Global Warming. And limited resources. And disappearing forests. And extinguished species. And limited fresh water. And the resulting wreck that one day dents our illusions will be horrific.