View Full Version : please rate this snow activity's danger level
01-22-2005, 09:59 AM
When it snows up my way, my friends and i have fun in the snow. Hooking up a rope to the ball hitch or either my Nissan Titan or Subaru Justy (depending how many people come) we pull each other around on a snow tube or snow saucer/disc.
Here is the more in-depth:
one person at a time
vehicle doesn't go over 15mph
people riding in the back/hatch tell driver when the rider falls off
full winter gear required
must be done in open area (parking lot, field, whatever)
the rope is about 20 feet long and pretty blue/white braid and it's that plastic polyethylene or something like that
So we go driving around in circles and making good lateral G's on the rider and they swing out to the side of the truck in which case the driver has to check the mirrors to see if the rope is getting close to the tire, in which case speed up a little bit. When dealing with my friends, i put their safety before mine and i can't see anything trecherous about doing this activity. Even my parents think this is fine and they are safety nutjobs when it comes to vehicle-and-human interaction. But my friends' parents think this is totally too dangerous and they though fits when they find out. So do you, Dopers, find this to be an overtly dangerous snow activity?
Personally i think skiing is more dangerous b/c you can run into trees, wipe out, tumble down a slope, get run over by other skiers, etc.
01-22-2005, 04:09 PM
Fairly dangerous. You'd have a royal cockup if you ever have a serious skid or spin in the truck. If you skid and hit something like a curbstone the people riding in back are hosed and you could be looking ad some serious injuries. This goes way beyond just playing skidpad by yourself in packed snow or wet area since you have a lot of other people dangling off your truck. I'm sure you can probably get away with it often with no problems but when you do realize you might be in trouble you will already be in serious trouble and won't be able to do anything about it.
I get the feeling your a minor and/or doing this with other minors. If you do have a serious injury your insurance company is tell you to go take a flying leap because this kind of activity isn't covered. If the parents of an injured party have to recover medical expenses their lawyer is going to look at your parent's house then you will be royally f*cked.
If you go skiiing and stay on trails that are appropriate for your skill level you are reasonably safe. This activity... I feel pretty safe in saying you haven't had professional training and you may not be as good a driver as you think you are. If you want thrills and danger join the navy like I did and dodge airplanes for an extra $85 a month. ;)
01-22-2005, 04:18 PM
We aren't minors. I'm 23 and my friends are within 3 years of me. The reason we go to the parking lots is that there are no curbs, just parking lights with round concrete bases. The Titan has ABS and VDC. I've had another car where, even with only ABS, i did have a cockup--at 55mph.
I can't get the idea into my head that 15mph is dangerous when it isn't (to me). I'd be having the same mental problem if i told myself i had 6 arms when i know i don't (i don't think)
01-22-2005, 04:48 PM
Danger is not a binary thing, either something is dangerous or not, it's a matter of degree. I have no doubt that you can do this without accident or injury most of the time. Unfortunately if you judge risk based on the fact that nothing bad has happened so far I think you may be deluding yourself. You need to think in terms of what could happen.
I may live in Arizona but I have three years in Northern Montana so I know a little about driving on snow. Under good conditions you can judge traction well and stay within your limits. Packed snow can be treacherous. A little sunshine and a surface that gave moderate traction is now greased glass and the best ABS and traction control system in the world won't a thing to help. There is an old saying that applies here, four wheel drive allows you to get farther from civilization before you get stuck.
Get sideways without traction and you're no longer in control, you're passively watching a physics experiment. 15mph is slow when you are in control of your vehicle. It's not slow if you're going sideways toward a concrete barrier. How about the folks in the sled? They are even less protected if they hit something and if the vehicle rotates in a skid they could be launched at an even higher speed.
When I was in high school our track coack would give us speed training by having us hold a bar attached to the back of his pickup at about chest level while he drive across the parking lot. I remember having a death grip as he sped up since I knew I'd be hamburger on the pavement if I let go. I dont' recall how fast he'd go but it couldn't have been more than 15mph and from that perspective it sure didn't seem slow. I doubt if many coaches get away with stunts like that today.
I'm not saying it doesn't sound like fun, it does. You asked if there was danger, there is IMHO. People do dangerous things all the time and if they do them with informed consent I think it's okay.
01-22-2005, 05:06 PM
That's another version of bumper shining (that's what it's called where I'm from), it's illegal, and it can get you killed. That's why it's illegal - all the dead kids. I'd stop doing it if I were you.
01-22-2005, 05:30 PM
As Padeye said ...
Risk is quantified by two parameters, amount of damage possible and likelihood of the outcome that causes the damage. As to the former ...
If the rider hits one of the light stanchions at 15mph, they could be killed or brain damaged if they went in head first. Broken bones are a near certainty regardless of how they hit.
If you hit one with the truck and that stops or slows you suddenly, then they will come sliding into the truck at up to 15 mph relative speed with similar results, plus the risk of being run over (slowly) if you're still moving.
If you don't hit anything at all and they get bumped off the snowbowl at 15mph, now they're sliding out of control towards ???.
If they hit an ice patch & are thrown down, a bare or parka-ed head on ice at that speed is probably a skull fracture.
Now to the likelihood. Essentially, the likelihood is 100%. Just like with young kids, you'll keep doing it until somebody gets hurt. It's human nature. The likelihood on any given run with any given rider is quite small, but the cumulative likelihood of a bad outcome is near certainty.
Now what's the liklihood on an individual run? Good question. In addition to hitting the light poles, what else can you find to hit?
A snowplowed snowbank is all but rock hard. Even one 6" high left over from a previous snow & now buried under the new snow would be enough to dump the rider when they hit it.
A curb or island they added last year that you never noticed or forgot about.
Some junk somebody left in the lot the day before it snowed and is now buried just below the surface.
I hate to sound like a fuddy duddy, because I bet that's a real blast. But I also think that if you do this enough times over a couple years you are gonna bust somebody up, and even at age 23 not everything always heals up right.
Having said that, wearing a motorcycle helmet would reduce the likelihood of crippling injuries or death by 90+%. And what's a broken arm or two versus all that fun?? I say grab a helmet and go for it. Heck, I'd do it once or twice & I'm in my late 40s, with all the scars & fear-of-injury to show for it.
But no drinking. And remember that the difference between 15mph and 17 mph seems like nothing to the driver, but it's 28% more energy for the rider to dissipate in a collision. So be serious about your speed limit, deadly serious. Even 10 mph is plenty for fatal head injuries without a helmet.
01-22-2005, 06:37 PM
Aside from the danger aspect, there's the law to consider.
In general, there's only a few things you can get in trouble for in a car on private property. One is DUI and its varients and another is reckless driving. These are arrestable offenses rather than driving violations. You and your friends are driving recklessly. Be careful.
01-22-2005, 07:07 PM
So do you, Dopers, find this to be an overtly dangerous snow activity?
Well, I guess I'm gonna be the only one in the thread so far that says it sounds like a friggin' BLAST and I doubt it's any more dangerous than some skateboard stunts.
Like featherlou said, it sounds a lot like "bumper shining", which is called "bumper sliding" around here. And while it might be dangerous, my friends and I all did it from our teens through our twenties, and you know what? Not a single person in our area was ever killed!
You're having fun, and you sound like you're taking some precautions. Rock on, dude.
01-22-2005, 08:39 PM
I appreciate the responses and concerns. Tonight is the last night i'm allowed to do it. . . .in this county. A sheriff came up and did his thing. I was polite and all, he was quite pissed off about it--at least i think he was if he starts cussing the way he did :dubious:. He threatened me with a $275 fine at first, then went to his Blazer, talked on his radio, came back and told me he made a mistake and it would be a $575 fine. Then he told me to "fucking bounce" so we bounced (leaving the rope attached to the ball hitch).
It was fun while it lasted. :cool:
01-22-2005, 08:45 PM
If I bring beer, will you let me ride?
01-23-2005, 10:14 AM
Oh, boy-another thread asking our opinions as to whether or not the poster should participate in an illegal(and quite possibly highly dangerous) activity.
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