Friday night topic: Winter driving madness

After a mild start, it looks like this winter is gearing up a bit, dropping snow and ice around various parts of the U.S. this week. Among other things, that means winter driving conditions are back, at least in some places... which leads to this evening's traditionally off-topic Friday night topic: those crazy driving conditions and the things that happen in them.

I suppose the most dangerous experience I ever had in the snow and ice was back in college, when I was young enough not to know any better. I was driving on a snow-covered rural highway, down a hill and around a turn, when my little Honda CRX lost traction. Naturally, I attempted to correct course, which ended up being a massive overcorrection. The car played pendulum for a couple of swings, as I repeated the overcorrections in different directions, and eventually it swung around 180° and slid backwards, off the highway and down a steep hill. The snow seems to have saved me at that point, since my sideways car didn't catch and roll down the hill, which it well could have done, and there was remarkably little damage once we got it towed out. Drove the thing home and never had to bother with any repairs.

After that, I knew about keeping the wheels pointed in, you know, the direction you want to go. I went on to become something of a snow-driving enthusiast, thanks to a combination of youth, insanity, living in Missouri, and owning a tiny car with roughly 60% of its weight over the drive wheels.

In a more recent highlight of my winter driving career, I had the fun of driving a minivan filled with my closest family members several hundred miles through an ice storm. When we stopped for gas, the sliding door wouldn't open—'twas glazed shut with thick coating of ice. Folks had to climb out through the front door.

Fortunately, I've avoided anything more than minor fender benders, by and large, through guile and knowing when it's simply too awful to go out. What about you? What sort of winter driving escapades have you endured? It's other people, not the conditions, that are the biggest hazard, right?

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