The Nerve of Driving in Snow

I am in Vermont, where I have spent Christmas visiting family. My plan was to leave today (Monday) but a snowstorm is blasting its way along my travel route. After consulting with my sister, I decided to spend an extra day here to let the snow play itself out and be one of the few who make the right decision to stay off the highways. Besides, I am one of those annoying, super-slow, overly cautious snow drivers that confident drivers (or A-H’s) hate to get behind, so not only am I doing myself a favor by hopefully avoiding a possible car accident, I am responsible for controlling the blood pressure of hundreds of Vermonters and New Yorkers who would otherwise be stuck crawling behind my Camry like angry pearls on a string. So…youze guyz: be thankful this flatlander is out of your way today.

I learned how to drive in snow during the ice age of rear-wheel vehicles, graduated to front-wheel drive, then briefly drove an all-wheel drive Subaru (which we still have but is too old to trust for long distances). You would think years of experience would have built a mountain of confidence in maneuvering through snow and ice-covered roadways and whiteouts, especially since my commute to work is 23 miles of hills, winding roads and highway driving. I have driven over roads that were washboards of frozen slush, slid over black ice (which is the kind of ice you find when you suddenly find yourself doing a pirouette on wheels). I have plowed through snow drifts, been assaulted by sidewalk-sized ice slabs exploding off the tops of tractor-trailers at 80 mph, kicked boulder chunks of accumulated frozen muck off my wheel wells so the tires could spin, have scraped the ice off the INSIDE as well as the outside of my car windows. You would think I would motor out onto a snow-covered highway as if were about to drive down South Florida’s Route 75.

My self confidence in driving in snow; however, seems to have worked in reverse. These years of near misses, skids and slides have not been building bricks of bravery but rather, each experience has shorn away another layer of blind belief that nothing bad will happen. It is as if I was born with a finite pile of Nerve and every drive through a storm of ice or snow or slush (or all three mixed together), another line is subtracted from the total, leaving a little less for the next time. Multiply that times 35+ years of driving and my Nerve Pile has shrunk to a trembling puddle of jello. And while you would want me to chauffer you over a snowy road over someone who has never done it before, I would sooner stay put, sip another hot chocolate and call it a day.

And so I am.

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7 Responses to The Nerve of Driving in Snow

  1. Kate says:

    Very true! I call it the aegis of youth.

  2. Good for you. It takes a braver soul to stay off the roads than to venture out with the other A-H's, who think that all weather tires are the end all technology for driving on ice or snow. I remember actually putting chains with studs on tires years ago and can attest to the fact that they may be the only safe things to drive (slowly) on ice with. So stay off the roads and be safe with a cup of hot cocoa!

    Now you've got me worried though as my daughter,her husband and my two grandchildren are heading to Vermont tomorrow for a ski trip. I know they're good drivers,but I worry about the others on the roads who aren't safe drivers. Here's to hoping everyone will be safe and have a good drive.

  3. deejbrown says:

    Amen — besides…what a great excuse for another “sister day” even if we never did get around to watching “The Bucket List”…I had a great time and the snow was indeed beautiful!!! Wise decision, dd

    xoxo – cc+

  4. I left a comment yesterday, I guess it didn't come through. Anyway, glad you decided to stay and have another sister day. It's always wise to stay off the roads in bad weather.

  5. Chris Petrak says:

    When I think of the driving in snow I did back in Michigan many years ago, I shake my head at how stupid, & lucky, I was. Don't worry about being super slow, even in VT – we aren't all that much smarter than other people, at least at the beginning of winter. Gradually we relearn the lesson every year – four wheel drive does not mean we can drive the way we always do. You can often spot the people with that mind-set – they're in the ditch. Drive slow in the snow – I do. So far I've stayed out of ditches, and I get to look at lots of birds, usually flipped in my direction. Thanks for your kind comments on my blog – happy new year

  6. Wendy says:

    I'm most happy to stay inside on a snowy day. But when I do have to drive, I wish more people would stay home. 🙂

  7. So well-written. I'm glad you had a good visit and were able to decide to stay an extra day to wait it out. Really, very sensible of you! You had me chuckling about the other drivers lining up behind you like a string of pearls. Great visual!

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