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Overconfidence with 4-wheel drive vehicles

Published: Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

I don’t have four-wheel drive these days. But when I did years ago, I got cocky with it. 

Once, when a foot of snow fell, I decided to rescue a co-worker who didn’t have the advantage of four-wheel drive. I figured I could take on the treacherous roads.

I ended up stuck. 

A guy in a pickup truck tried to pull me out, but it didn’t work. I waited until a day later, when much of the snow melted. Humbled, I drove the Jeep away. 

Over the last few weeks, I have come across a couple of instances in which folks with four-wheel drive found themselves off the road and stuck.

One co-worker went slightly off the road near Rock Falls to use his phone. When he was done, he found he could go nowhere. 

I tried to push him out – to no avail. Another co-worker showed up, and our combined muscle (my contribution being meager) didn’t do the trick. We waved down a passing motorist, who joined in. Still no success.

Fortunately, the guy had a pickup truck and a chain, so he quickly pulled out my co-worker, who said he thought his four-wheel drive could have handled a few inches of snow.

The other day, when I was covering the fire on West Seventh Street in Sterling, a neighbor couldn’t get out of his driveway because of police and fire vehicles. So he tried to leave through a foot of snow. Didn’t work. 

He told me he figured his four-wheel drive could handle the layer of snow. 

There’s a trend here: Folks with four-wheel drive often succumb to overconfidence. 

The feature sure helps, but it’s not infallible.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.

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