Which scares you more? Snow or ice?
Some people are afraid to drive in snow. They panic at the first snow forecast. I’ve never truly understood their panic. On snow you can get traction as long as it is not too deep.
Ice or freezing rain is what scares me. But perhaps it is just a matter of training.
One winter morning after a night of freezing rain, my dad volunteered to take me to high school. He had already been out and tested the streets. They were slick as snot.
“Hey, Dad. Since I don’t know how to drive on ice, could you coach me today?” I asked.
He grinned. What man doesn’t respond well to compliments on his driving skills? Plus, I’d just given him permission to tell me what to do. Double points.
He slid into the passenger seat. “Drive slow. When you have to brake, pump them gently. Don’t ever slam on the brakes.”
A layer of salt had helped melt some of the ice on the city streets. I lightly pumped the brakes at red traffic lights as instructed. Then slowly accelerated when the lights changed. Yes, it was slick, but as long as I drove slowly and obeyed Dad’s instructions it was going well. My confidence increased.
But then we reached the four-lane highway. Only three more miles to my high school. First, I had to make it around a long curve.
Thirty mile per hour wind swept across an open stretch of grassland. The wind toyed with our car as if we were its personal plaything. It blew us toward the dangerous high edge of the curve. Instinctively I slammed on the brakes.
“Take your foot off the brake.” My dad spoke with quiet authority.
But my foot froze on the brake. We glided across the highway as if our tires were skates. In slow motion we slid straight toward the top of the curve. I had only a moment to react before the wind would push us over the edge.
“Take your foot off the brake.” Dad repeated a little stronger this time.
I pressed even harder. Over the edge we went. Off the road. Down the grassy slope. At some point I finally released the brake. We coasted to a stop in the ditch. Thank goodness I had not been driving fast.
We sat there for a moment. Me in embarrassed silence. If only I’d listened and obeyed, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
Why hadn’t I listened? I must have panicked.
“Could you please get us out of this?” Even as I asked the question, I doubted he could do anything about the situation. We’d have to call for a tow truck and the police might have to come, and it was all my fault!
We exchanged places. Dad put it in low gear. Slowly he edged the car along the side of the ditch until he reached a spot where the road and the grassland aligned. Then up onto the road he drove. His skills mesmerized me.
Even when we slid—he did not tap the brake once. He took his foot off the accelerator and skillfully steered until he regained control. Finally, he drove safely into my school’s parking lot.
I let out a shaky breath, so grateful my dad did know how to drive on ice.
Which scares you more? Snow or ice? Give it some thought.
Tell me what you think in the comments below.
Until next time . . . Easy on the brake and Travel Light,
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