Winter weather a roadblock for commuters

Story by Megan Ellis

Des Moines had 29.3 inches of snow this winter, which surpassed its average 21.7 inches, according to KCCI.

With continued snow into late March, the latest season’s surplus of snow is likely even greater.

Although the frigid temperatures and snow are difficult for Drake’s on-campus students when walking to and from class, the off-campus commuters face a treacherous drive in the wintery environment.

Due to the unpredictability of the weather, commuters have to plan for rough conditions and make tough decisions.

“We’re (Drake University) notorious for not cancelling school. Which is fine for people who live in dorms and can just walk to class,” said Mariah Lewis, a sophomore studying broadcast news and English. “But for a commuter, when the interstate is literately a skating rink, it’s dangerous.”

In the past, Lewis has decided to stay home during inclement weather even though classes were still scheduled.

In addition to being a hazard, snow has a huge impact on the time it takes to get to Drake’s campus.

Lizzy Stuart, a sophomore studying psychology and sociology, said her less than three mile drive to Drake can take up to a half-hour after a heavy snowfall.

The 30-minute time commitment doesn’t include the time required to scrape and warm up her car.

With the time commitment, tardiness is a real concern.

Stuart said she has been late to class several times because her car, a 1998 Beetle, got stuck in the snow.

The low-sitting vehicle is prone to getting trapped in piles of snow.

“I was like a half an hour late to an exam once because I was stuck in the snow,” Stuart said.

While snow is a concern, Mario Rossi, a junior studying broadcast news, said his difficulty with winter driving is actually caused more by other drivers than from the snow itself.

In his 25-year-old Oldsmobile, Rossi reported having few setbacks on his 10-mile drive to school.

He noticed many changes in other drivers after a snowfall.

“I would rather be stuck behind a super slow person than having to try to avoid a super fast person trying to pass everybody,” Rossi said.

Rossi was in an accident with a high-speed driver over winter break.

Accidents during the winter are not uncommon.

According to the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, car accidents during snow, sleet, slush or icy conditions account for 42 percent of weather related car accidents.

Despite being involved in a collision, Rossi is proud to announce that his car came out completely unharmed.

Even with the arrival of spring, Rossi still doesn’t quite feel at ease.

After many years in the Des Moines area, he knows that snow is possible in Iowa up until April, and the later the snow, the more weary he becomes.

“The longer the snow is drawn out, the worse people get,” Rossi said, “it always seems to stick around longer than people expect it to.”

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