It is reassuring to learn that I am not alone in my anxiousness relating to driving in wintery months, with snow on the ground and ice at the intersections.
As a youth I was fearless, able to gun the motor and charge through a snowbank with little fear or acknowledgement that I might just get stuck halfway through.
A group of us often stormed the grid roads, heading here and there, thinking little about the depth of the snow in the ditches nor whether we might freeze to death if we soared into those snowbanks. Of course the parents were told we stuck to well-travelled paths and journeyed in convoys, just in case trouble met us over the next hill. I suspect they knew the truth.
Winter of my youth meant outdoor skating and hockey at recess, noon hour, after school and in the evenings, under the lights, watching teams pass, shoot and score. The shacks were toasty and the hot chocolate warmed our innards.
I’m not sure when it happened, but suddenly I was no longer keen to do outside activities in the snow. A snowmobile ride on a swaying sled-runner no longer held any appeal. Nor did driving on highways that were listed as “winter conditions.” Three flakes of snow and I was ready to stay indoors, cancel out-of-city appointments and watch the snow accumulate on the street and in the driveway.
And who believes the four-day weather forecast? The trip to Brandon for a convention was smooth sailing. The trip home was not so delightful, thus leading us to take the Greyhound Bus to and from the next gathering in Manitoba. The bus option no longer exists which means if we had to venture east, it would be with someone else driving while I navigate under several blankets from the back seat.
A conversation the other day with some folks of my age and perhaps a bit younger set my mind at ease. I have company when it comes to the dread of winter driving. We comfortably shared our concerns about our loss of adventurous courage, telling a story or two about our exploits behind the wheel when we were younger and not as conscious of the dangers out there.
Our chat brought to mind the CAA survey that asked Canadians to rate driving behaviours viewed as serious threats. Topping the list was people driving after drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs. That was followed by drivers running red lights, driving aggressively, drivers using their phones or being sleepy behind the wheel.
The survey didn’t specifically relate to winter driving but if we were afraid of those drivers during three seasons as well as winter, we are definitely super-other-driver-aware. And that is a good thing.
My top concern is with drivers who don’t stop for red lights or STOP signs. After being smacked into by another driver who didn’t stop for a red light, I am uber-aware of what’s happening at those intersections. Will the driver stop at his/her red light? Will the STOP sign be obeyed? Does the other driver know I have the right-of-way at the four-way stop and does he/she care?
Those anxieties are heightened in winter so it is likely safer for me if I stay home to avoid those many opportunities for winter driving to live up my pessimistic outlook.
When Housemate wonders why I don’t immediately hurry through the green light, it is simply because I am waiting to see if oncoming traffic will slither through when it shouldn’t. I’d hate to be in the danger zone. And I’m happy I’m not alone in my caution.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.