Winter Driving While Preserving Your Sanity
- Jennifer Goetz January 28, 2010
I've had my fair share of miserable driving experiences.
I love to be carefree while driving. My worst experiences
always occur when I drive in road conditions that don't lend
themselves to carefree driving. Let's look at the last few
major road trips I've taken in the winter. It wasn't just cold,
blustery weather I faced - it was more like blizzards with
uncleared roads and icy patches. Yikes! I vowed never to
make a major road trip in the winter again, but somehow I
always get sucked back in. Life doesn't always make it
possible to dismiss winter driving, so I'm here to offer tips on how to survive this
driving without losing your sanity and arrive at your destination safely.

Rule #1: Avoid Winter Driving If At All Possible
Call me crazy, but the best way to stay safe is to stay off the road. This is the
advice they tell us on the weather stations anyways. Great advice, right? Yes, in a
perfect world. But that's not entirely practical and it's easier said than done. If you
don't have to drive, great (you can't lose your sanity if you're not driving). If you do
have to drive…

Rule #2: Plan Ahead
Waiting until the last minute is awesome when the weather is fair, and I love
spontaneity. But when conditions are less than optimal, it's critical you have a plan.
Where are you going? Where will you stay? What are the road conditions? What's
your backup plan for when things go south (and they probably will)? Part of
planning ahead is making sure you have all the things you'll need to make the trip
enjoyable/bearable. Blankets - check. Emergency kit - check. Snacks and water -
check. Good book or magazine for when you're sitting in standstill traffic - check.
Camera to record all the buffoonery around you - check. You see where I'm going
with this. Plan for the must-haves and the nice-to-haves because you never know
when you'll need them.

Rule #3: Get Your Geography On
Remember back in middle school when you had to learn maps, directions, and
topography? A refresher may be in order. You might need these skills when the
main highway is backed up 20 miles with an accident not even on the roadway.
Be prepared for detours. If you grew up with GPS, then you really need to get your
skills together. Personally, some of my best rides have been off the beaten path.
Do be cautious, however, and make sure that your detour is clear. It's pointless to
leave the plowed road for an icy, dangerous back road. Better to be at a standstill
than in a ditch!

Rule #4: Patience is a Virtue (Seriously) - Use It!
Yes, it's cliché, but there is some truth here. Be ready to sit and wait. Go back to
rule #2 if you need ideas on things to do while waiting. You'll probably even have a
great story after the fact. In the end, if all else fails…

Rule #5: Go With the Flow
So life isn't neat and perfect and your plans become completely
sabotaged (which usually happens to me). Deal with it! Find the
silver lining in the situation. Maybe you get to spend extra time in
a place you never intended. Maybe you find beauty in a situation
you wouldn't have experienced under normal circumstances. At
the end of the day, the bottom line is…

Rule #6: Stay Safe!
There's no point listening to the advice above if you are unsafe -
you may not get to your destination at all. I'm not advocating that
you drive 5 miles per hour on the interstate, but don't be reckless.
It drives me crazy to see tailgaters when it's snowing heavily - how
idiotic! On top of that, these are probably the people causing the
accidents that slow down travel for the rest of us. With that being said, take it easy.
Do you really need to put yourself and others in danger? We all have places to go
and people to see, but take the time to enjoy the ride and stay sane along the way.

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