CAMBRIDGE (CAP) - Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a brain disorder that causes drivers to forget the most basic rules of driving the minute snow starts to fall.
Dubbed Seasonal Driving Disorder (SDD), researcher Roderick Crawford describes it as a neurological syndrome in which the presence of snow literally causes synapses in the brain to cease firing. In turn, people suffering from the disorder lose the ability to recall even the simplest driving procedures, such as how to maintain a consistent speed, or what the brakes do.
"We've all seen it out on the highways during a snowstorm," remarked Crawford. "Suddenly people are speeding up and slowing down indiscriminately, failing to brake properly, spraying out gallons of wiper fluid for no apparent reason, etc.
"For years most assumed these drivers were just stupid, or perhaps intoxicated," he explained. "But now we know that these people have a serious brain disorder."
And its effects are far from isolated, Crawford added. "We have reason to believe SDD affects millions of people in the United States alone," Crawford said. "If you don't believe me, just drive up Route 128 in Boston during a flurry."
There was evidence of the disorder just this week, when unprecedented snowfall hit the Northeast. This caused some especially severe SDD reactions, given that our brains are conditioned not to expect the worst snow until February, Crawford explained.
"Our experience was that drivers throughout the region simply refused to acknowledge that it was snowing," confirmed Karl Amero of the Massachusetts State Police. "A good number of them clearly sped up and started texting more."
One driver, Fred Hammerstein from Holden, Mass., was hospitalized with frostbite after being discovered packed in snow in his Fiat 500 convertible. "I do not close the top when I'm driving this baby, dammit," he told EMTs before slipping into a coma.
"It's a classic case," said Crawford when told of Hammerstein's symptoms. "It's amazing we don't see more snowstorm convertible comas."
SDD may even affect drivers outside the car, said Crawford, pointing toward the large number of people using small children to save their parking spaces as possible sufferers. "And the preponderance of snow in Alaska could go a long way toward explaining the Palin family," he added.
So far there is no known cure for SDD, and any driver who happens to be on the road when snow hits is at risk, says Crawford. And since the syndrome impairs a sufferer's judgment, it's entirely likely that someone would do something stupid, like go out driving in the middle of a raging snowstorm to pick up Chinese food, for instance.
"Mmmmm ... Chinese food," commented Hammerstein before slipping back into his coma.
Crawford recommended that as soon as people see snow in the forecast, they should consider pinning themselves under something large. As for critics who have pointed out recent studies showing that scientists actually don't actually have any idea what they're talking about, Crawford remarked, "You don't have to be a scientist to know an idiot when you see one."
- CAP News Staff