Being a South African I was not always (and to be honest am still not) confident driving in bad weather. Driving safely isn’t as easy as it seems.
One morning a few years ago, I woke up bright and early to a frosty morning and got ready to go to work and take my son and his friend to school. We never got to school that day.
Half way my car slipped on black ice and turned over. I will never forget the sensation of rolling and all I could think of was the kids who were screaming.
Thankfully the car came to rest and didn’t go any further as that would have meant landing in a lake. It is the weirdest sensation – we landed with the car on its side. I tried to reach for my handbag and couldn’t get to my phone.
Other drivers stopped and helped get my son and his friend out of the car. I was stuck and had to wait for the emergency services. On that long drive in the ambulance on the way to town I had over an hour to think. What could I have done differently and how could I have adjusted my driving to avoid this happening again.
Getting confidence to drive again
It took over a month before I had the confidence to drive again and when I did it was January and more icy than ever. If I woke up in the morning and there was frost outside I froze inside. Froze with fear that it would happen again.
At this point I lived in Connemara – which is far from everywhere. There was no choice I had to drive and in order to do that I needed the skills to ensure that I wouldn’t crash.
On the day of the accident I was driving really slowly which was why we were all ok apart from bumps and bruises. So driving slowly wasn’t enough.
I was advised to drive with my gears rather than my brake. Easier said than done.
A few weeks into the new year I had opportunity to test my new skills. We set off to school. Passed the scene of the accident and my confidence started to build. When we turned onto the coast road it was solid white ice. We were literally driving on a skating rink.
Even writing this now years later, the fear is real. I crawled along the road – in a low gear- and tried to keep it together for the boys. There came a point when I had to pull over – simply to rest and cry and to do this I had to brake. I changed down gears safely, indicated and pulled onto the side of the road. After pulling myself together I re-joined the line of cars and dropped the boys safely to school.
I am delighted that my driving tip has been included in a mini e-book published by Chill Insurance. I think we all need to be aware of hazards like bad weather than can make driving a challenge.
Download the book here.
Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support.