The slippery slope


Nick Popiel

Covered in snow, the walkway to Free State’s doors become treacherous as winter weather arrives.

On Monday Jan. 7, junior Maddie Hill celebrated her extra day of freedom.  But her excitement was accompanied by relief. Because her house sits on a hill, the winter weather makes it nearly impossible to leave.

Frigid temperatures and winter storms present new obstacles to driving in the already dangerous parking lot. A string of car crashes immediately preceding winter break served as a wake up call to many students to become more vigilant drivers.

Accidents are common in the parking lot due to the abundance of new drivers, but even experienced drivers are fazed by the snow. Although sophomore Garrett Hodge has been driving since eighth grade, he hasn’t yet mastered winter driving.

“I’m terrible at it,” Hodge said. “My car always slides around and stuff.”

However, living in the Midwest, everyone has advice for tackling the slick roads.

“You gotta stop early and use the brakes early,” Hodge said.

Hill’s dad, realizing the potential danger, taught her to drive in the snow.

While practice can increase one’s snow driving abilities, caution does not always prevent mishaps.

Senior Rachel Miller experienced the risks of winter driving first-hand.

“I fishtailed and I was headed towards a car,” Miller said, “I missed the car and I ended up going on someone’s yard.”

The accident luckily resulted in no damage.  When her parents came to handle the ordeal, Miller and her friends left to go sledding, but some complications arose.

“The woman threatened to call the police because it was a hit and run, or whatever, for her grass,” Miller said.

Junior Mersadees Sampson has also had her fair share of winter driving debacles.

“My car doesn’t do very well in the snow,” Sampson said. “‘Cause it sits really low, so I get stuck a lot. And it’s very tragic for me.”

Her distaste stems from an unpleasant first experience with winter driving.  While sitting at a stoplight, she was rear-ended by a car whose driver lost control.

But some drivers can be surprisingly polite during these winter months.

“I was coming around the corner, and I got stuck,” Sampson said. “And there was just like people outside all over the road shoveling each other out.”

Student Resource officer Larry Lindsay notes teen’s distracted driving as the most common mistake. Additionally, snow requires even more attentiveness behind the wheel.

“So, you just need to slow down and pay attention to what’s going on,” Lindsay said. “That’s really it.”

In Kansas, unpredictable weather is inevitable, but reckless driving doesn’t have to be.  Let’s be careful out there.