Are you serious? The roads are closed!

"Never" is a word we use sparingly, because so often it comes back to haunt us. There have just been too many times we've vowed to never (fill in the blank), then ended it up doing it anyway.

Just because the road beyond the sign “looks okay” isn’t a good reason to keep going. You won’t know how bad it really is until you’re face-to-face with the conditions that caused the closure. (Annette Tait & Katy "Kate" Kassian)

"Never" is a word we use sparingly, because so often it comes back to haunt us. There have just been too many times we've vowed to never (fill in the blank), then ended it up doing it anyway.

So when we say "never," listen up - it's important.

There is never - never, ever - a valid reason to expect someone to take unnecessary risks. A few minutes or an inconvenience is not worth a person's life. Or your own life.

Think about it - the pressure to get to work on time after getting an ultimatum could mean dangerous speeds on icy roads, or worse. Just the other night, we overheard an employer loudly berating an employee over the phone for not being able to be at work on time the following day. "I don't care that I-70 in Kansas is closed! Find a dirt road and get around it!"

The poor employee was stuck on a closed interstate in Kansas and the boss man was telling that employee to take an even bigger risk by getting off the main highway in a blinding snowstorm and onto roads that only stay open because states and counties don't put gates up on the two-lanes.


Think of the pressure: Risk your job and your livelihood, or risk your life?

Too bad some people don't think about it that way. After all, storms and bad roads are just what happens in the winter. We've got this - we live here, we know how to drive in this stuff, right?

The problem is when we forget that Mother Nature is bigger and badder than we are, and even four-wheel drive can't solve everything.

Best case scenario? Hitting the ditch and having to be pulled out. Worst case? Jaws of life, ambulances with lights and sirens, and emergency room crews scrambling to save lives.

Is the outcome really worth the risk?

Personally, we couldn't live with ourselves if our urging to get to work, go to school, or be home for the holidays endangered someone. Or if our own selfish need to be somewhere other than where we were when the storm started turned into putting other people in danger.

It’s time to stay home when road closures cover North Dakota‘s — or any state’s — Department of Transportation road conditions map in a series of red lines and “candy cane” stripes. (Screenshot, North Dakota Department of Transportation)

That's right - traveling when roads are bad and/or visibility is low puts more than just our own lives on the line. Any time someone goes missing or a rig hits the ditch or another vehicle, there's a whole host of people who have to respond. Law enforcement and emergency personnel get dispatched and, if the snow's already piled up, it may also take a snow plow driver to get them there. And don't forget the tow truck drivers who get called out to clear the wreckage off the road.


And once that whole group's on the move - on the same bad roads in the same bad weather that started the whole mess - their lives are also on the line. Besides finding you and getting to wherever you are, they have to do what's needed to get you to safety, all while hoping and praying another vehicle isn't going to skid into them while they're doing it.

We get it. Businesses need to operate, and people need to be there to run them. The holidays are times to celebrate with family and friends we may not see other times of the year.

But as the old saying goes, "better late than never." And when it comes to bad roads and all the bluster Old Man Winter can send us, we have to agree - better to wait until it clears than to never arrive at all.

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