"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
- Robert Frost, Stopping by the Woods On a Snowy Evening
Had the narrator of Robert Frost's famous, wintry poem not been so consumed with existential despair, he might have realized that stopping by the woods on a snowy evening is a really bad idea unless you have your emergency roadside kit and the wherewithal to turn on your carriage's hazard blinkers to alert other drivers to your predicament.
As it was, in this hypothetical poem scenario, this exhausted man may well have risked never keeping his promises at all, and, indeed, may have placed the lives of other poem dwellers at risk with his lack of caution. Don't be like the unnamed narrator of Robert Frost's poem. Ensure that you drive safely this winter by following a few simple tips.
Driving in Snow, Slush, and Ice
When Jack Frost strikes, he doesn't mess around. The first and best way to deal with his wrath is to avoid dangerous winter road conditions altogether. Pay careful attention to weather reports and only drive when you absolutely have to. Consider whether your driving trip is truly essential. For example, driving to Dunkin' Donuts to acquire pumpkin-flavored donut holes may not be worth braving the ice storm of the century.
Second, make sure you have a good understanding of the fundamentals of driving in snow, ice, and slush. Driving in lower gears in a stick shift, for example, gives your vehicle improved traction on slick road surfaces. You want to give other drivers plenty of room and pay close attention to the behavior of those driving ahead of and behind you. Avoiding dangerous drivers is one of the best things you can do on winter roads. If they want to fly by doing 95 on a sheet of ice like they're daring the grim reaper to do something, let them. Just stay far, far away from their shenanigans.
Finally, be aware of the type of vehicle you're driving and follow the same basic safety principles no matter what. A 4WD vehicle does offer superior mobility during winter in many cases, but that doesn't mean you can take on dangerous snow, ice, and slush conditions without issue. The confidence offered by a 4WD vehicle becomes negative if it turns into overconfidence.
Likewise, learn about your vehicle's transmission. CVT transmissions are not necessarily better or worse for winter conditions, but they do behave differently. Be sure to read your owner's manual thoroughly and speak to a trusted mechanic if you lack confidence in your vehicle's winter readiness.
The Most Important Factor
There are many factors that go into a safe winter driving experience, but one stands above all others. It's not your tires, your brakes, your transmission, or whether you're driving a 4WD vehicle. Simply put, the most important factor when driving in winter is you.
If you are tired, not alert, or unable to drive safely due to medication or alcohol consumption, no amount of vehicular preparation will keep you safe. Lay off the eggnog before driving, make sure you're well-rested, and pay careful attention to road conditions and what other drivers are up to around you.
It's up to you to stay safe on the roads. Careful, focused driving is the best way to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Drive safely and respectfully this winter season and you'll be cooler than Jack Frost himself.