People's Forum: Don't be too quick to declare weather emergencies
With due respect for friends on both sides of the issue, I urge restraint before pushing the Elkhart County Commissioners to declare an emergency with travel restrictions for these reasons:
1. Conditions vary widely in the county. If travel is restricted, this penalizes many people who are able to do their daily business.
2. The most slippery conditions occur when the temperature is above 20 degrees. Below 15 degrees, the crunchy ice and snow actually improve traction and make driving safer.
3. Snow, especially deep or drifting, slows down all traffic. So, with the exception of the Toll Road, a winter accident is very seldom fatal in Elkhart County. Compare this to the summer mornings going to work, and high-speed, late night accidents where cars are totaled and innocent people die.
4. Cars stuck in snow drifts are often pulled out with no dents at all. If damage does occur to the car, the costs of towing or repairs are paid directly by the car owner at no cost to the public. There is really no extra cost to the county, except for maybe returning to plow after the car is towed.
However, the cost to the Elkhart County community as a whole is great when the businesses are forced to close their doors.
It is fair to alert citizens to weather warnings, and encourage safe travel. In the temperature ranges we have in northern Indiana, most adults prepare for winter exposure. If safety is the concern, maybe someone should tell the teenage boys not to wear shorts in the winter.
If we ask the county commissioners to decide for us when we can travel safely and do business, we actually become a less responsible citizenry, and less able to help each other when needed.