What winter clothing is best for driving?
Ever since I can remember, I like to be warm. I remember being a kid and sitting around the campfire with a sweater and jeans on, maybe even a jacket. My dad on the other hand, sat in shorts and possibly a t-shirt. I even sleep better when I’m warm and of course; drive better too. But does our winter clothing prohibit us from driving safely?
I have a couple of pairs of gloves that I have in the car. One pair stays in my coat pocket and the other pair – in my glove box. I’ll wear the gloves for the first few minutes of driving then take them off. I like to feel the steering wheel and have a slight grip. Sometimes, the gloves we wear are too thick or slippery with the type of material they’re made of to grasp the steering wheel effectively. Woolen mittens are probably the worst.
Now, with my shaved head I have to wear a winter hat. I need to keep the heat from leaving through the top of my head. But what about driving with a hood on? Would that prohibit you from glancing in your mirrors or blind spots? Would that reduce your width of field of vision because of the limited peripheral vision? I believe it does, so we need to put some more thought about what we’re wearing while driving in the winter. Wearing a hat is better than using the hood from your coat or sweater as it still allows you to use your eyes effectively.
I’ll wear shoes while driving in the winter, but I’ll also keep a pair of winter boots in the trunk of my vehicle in case I have to get out in deep snow. Some boots have such a thick sole, that it may be difficult to feel the proper pressure in both the gas and brake pedals.
The winter coats I’ve had over the years have been very warm, but also lightweight. A bulky coat may stop your arm movement if you have to steer quickly. When I’m teaching students in the car at Young Drivers of Canada, I will often have a sweater on, but take my coat off and place it either in the trunk or on the floor of the backseat. Since the interior of the vehicle has warmed up, there’s no need to keep my gloves, hat and coat on while driving or teaching.
As always, we need to use logic and common sense as a driver, including for what we wear while we’re driving.