An Open Letter to Madison-area Drivers:My fellow Madisonians, As most of you have undoubtedly noticed, the City of Madison and the surrounding areas got several inches of snow during the last 36 hours.

What you may not know, however, is that the presence of snow on the ground does not automatically suspend all legal, social, practical, and ethical constraints on your automobiles.

Perhaps you remember when the city got snow last year. Many of you drove too fast for conditions and caused collisions with your fellow citizens. If you were lucky, no one was hurt by your reckless actions.

The fact that snow makes roads slippery is something of an unchanging fact from year to year. That means that if snow is on the road this year, the road will be slippery just like last year.

As a result, you may want to slow down a bit. If you usually speed, err, I mean drive, 35 miles per hour down the street in front of my house, chances are good that doing the same thing with snow on the ground will get you a personal audience with a tow truck driver and an insurance adjuster or two.

Also, I checked with the city's legal eagles and none of the local traffic laws have been suspended. That means you need to stop for stop signs. You still need to yield the right of way to pedestrians. Driving over medians to effect a U-turn is still verboten. If you wouldn't do it on an 80 degree July day, don't do it on a snowy 21 degree January day.

Here's a helpful hint: If the snow around your parked car is piled higher than half-way up your tires, you'll have to actually exert yourself, pick up a shovel, and shovel your car out. Your car might have a really kickin' sound system, but that doesn't subvert the laws of nature and physics one bit.

(Confidential to the driver of the Pontiac Bonneville that I helped push out of a driveway this morning: Try a bit of effort next time, loser. You didn't shovel one lousy foot of your walk, much less your driveway. It was no surprise that your crappy car with street performance tires got hung up on the sludge the snowplows pushed into your driveway. I especially liked the way you, in your late twenties or early thirties, stayed in the car with the windows up while myself and a large woman in her late forties pushed your lousy car for you out of the goodness of our hearts. Your complete lack of gratitude as you drove off really warmed my heart. Don't worry. We'll meet again. I walk by your house every day.)

Those of you who drive SUV's might want to check the definitions of both "All-Wheel Drive" and "Four-Wheel Drive." See, the key word in both of those phrases is "Drive." Just because you can travel the same speed on snowy roads as you can on dry roads does not mean that you can stop in the same distance. There is a reason that SUV owners often meet twenty at a time in the ditch. It's because as a group, you drive too fast.

This is Wisconsin, folks. We should know better than this. If you find yourself in the ditch or involved in a collision, spend the time waiting for a tow truck observing those of us who are not similarly handicapped by a lack of good sense and see if you can mimic how we safely and politely navigate roads the winter.