White-knuckled driving

That’s me: get a flake of snow on the ground (or even the threat of a flake) and I go into panic mode.

When I have to drive in bad weather, you will know me by my 20 mph speed, hazard lights a-flashin’, both hands firmly placed on the steering wheel as I softly mouth the mantra: “10 and 2; 10 and 2″…the classic (safest?)  hand position when driving, as recalled from my high school drivers ed classes.

I trace this back to a car accident January 11, 1996 (okay, so what if it was  fifteen years ago! It feels like it was just yesterday!).

I had to leave for work early that day, so I got myself and my son ready to go and we headed out the door. First stop was grammie’s house to drop my son off for the morning (for babysitting purposes) and then I would continue on to work.

We had experienced one of those storms that is composed of the “dreaded wintry mix” (rain, freezing rain, snow, sleet, or all of the above) the night before, and then the temperature dropped and froze everything. In the morning, a light snowfall began that covered up all of the ice that was on the roads from the previous night’s storm.

I was a cautious driver when it snowed, but not overly anxious or anything. I was going fairly slowly down my street and as I approached an intersection with a stop sign, I applied the brakes…and nothing happened. My car continued to sail along the snow-covered ice and, instead of slowing down, it started to actually pick up speed. I had just about enough time to see the car heading for me from the right side of the intersection, and that was it.

Next thing I knew, my (then) 5 year old son was shaking my shoulder, “Mom! Wake up!” Why was everything so blurry? Ah…my glasses (not to mention my cell phone) were missing in action.

It took me several seconds to realize that the air bag had deployed, which had knocked me unconscious for (probably) a minute or so. A nice man who heard the crash from inside his home across the street called 911, and was there telling me that help was on the way.

Anyway, all of my injuries (fortunately) healed over time. I am now left with just a residual Driving in the Snow Panic that descends every time there is a chance that I might have to (you guessed it) drive in the snow.

May I just say that it’s been a tough winter so far?

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