Reducing the stress of winter driving
There’s an old saying; “Whether you say you can or whether you say you can’t, you are correct.” This is especially true when it comes to believing you can drive safely in poor weather, especially winter weather. Being able to handle winter driving conditions starts before you leave your home. It starts in your mind.
As many drivers will admit, driving in snowy or icy conditions isn’t one of their preferred things to do. They often talk themselves out of the task and get themselves in a negative state of mind before they get to their vehicle. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I talk to my kids about stress. There’s good stress and bad stress. The good stress involves assignments or deadlines. Once you complete that task, there’s an emotional reward. That type of stress either goes away or is greatly reduced. The bad stress involves things you can’t control. Weather and road conditions definitely fall under that category. If you can’t control these things, why stress about them? Instead of stressing, get prepared to do a good job while behind the wheel!
It starts with getting up early enough to clear from the newly fallen snow or to scrape off the frost or ice off the vehicle. If it’s snow, remember to clear off the entire vehicle, not just the windows. Snow on the roof can loosen and slide forward onto your windshield if you brake suddenly. That adds to your stress…and poor visibility. Your lights need to be clear so drivers behind can see when you’re slowing and your headlights need to be clear to help you see at night, plus others can see you coming.
Leaving early to get to your destination also helps reduce your stress. It means you won’t be tempted to take chances with your driving because you know you’ll still get there on time. It helps to keep you focused on driving and not worried about the time. It also allows you to make better driving choices.
Many people aren’t fans of the cold weather. The thought of sitting in the cold vehicle gets them into a negative mood right off the start. Before heading outside, layer yourself with clothing. The layered system helps you stay warm when you first go outside, but as you warm up, you remove one layer at a time. Being too warm can cause you to feel sleepy or dopey. Also, wearing a hood while driving is a definite no-no. It blocks your peripheral vision and makes checking blind spots more difficult. Wearing a warm hat is a better option.
When your vehicle is traveling on slippery road conditions, gentle acceleration and a more gradual braking technique will allow you to safely maneuver your vehicle. Quick acceleration may cause your wheels to spin. Late braking may cause a 4 wheel lock-up. Even with anti-lock brakes it may take longer to stop on snow-covered roads. Performing a smooth transition from gas to brake and brake to gas will give you confidence you can handle driving in winter weather and reduce that stress. That accomplishment would be considered the good stress.
Part of driving through winter conditions is accepting it. We know it happens, so we need to learn how to deal with it. Winter tires can add to your confidence. With greater confidence, the stress reduces…or disappears. Now, that’s a good thing!