Sitting in the back seat of my parents car with it’s electrical faults and their tense “words” has sent me into my own little world again. I say tense words but what I mean is my mother voicing her concern of the speed of my father’s driving (a concern I share at the time of writing this post, so much so that I have actually stopped reading my book), and my father’s response, along the lines of stop panicking and let me drive.
Currently we have passed two incidents, thankfully neither looked to be serious, a point I am greatful to be able to reiterate as we are on our way to a family funeral. Meanwhile the traffic report is reporting similar conditions on most motarways due to the weather.
This has bought back my own experience of driving the 220mile journey home from Swansea on the M4 which was in danger of being closed down because of the snow. I thought to myself that would have been a step too far as I got into my car. A thought reinforced from the week before when I found myself picking my friend up from her former residence in the uplands because the taxi company said the roads were too iced over to risk the steep hills. The same roads that I managed in my 1.25 fiesta without any issues.
I found myself surmising that it would take me longer to get home, maybe an hour but not much more, as the roads were pretty much clear despite the fresh snow showers which had just began to fall. Hendrix was gently seeping out of my speakers, I was warm and relaxed, that was until I got to the M4.
Only 30% of the road was usable, three lanes had been reduced to one and most of the second one and the average speed of the traffic was 15miles per hour! The only people who were using the third lane were the massive trucks with trailers as they were the only ones able to pass the heap of snow that had built up between the second and third lane. It was here that I was lucky enough to be following such a vehicle as it made its way onto the third lane leaving its giant Tyre tracks as a beacon to my little car. “Follow me” it said as the prospect of maybe reaching 20mph in this trucks Tyre tracks beaconed me onto the coveted, clear third lane.
As with any epic journey there were perilous moments. The deviation to and from the third lane still proved to be somewhat treacherous. The giant and heavy truck had only managed to clear some of the snow boundary causing my car to loose all sense of direction and grip as it made it’s way over to the coveted third lane and what turned out to be a smug cruseing speed of 40mph. How did this journey end? Well I am writing this post. I have to be honest, there were times when I found myself fretting but my ability to drive in such weather conditions saved me from any sort of incident other than the said sumgness and envious looks from the other drivers on the road at the time.
You may think that driving in the snow is worse than driving in the rain and for the most part you would be correct. However I am reminded of another incident, this time in a down pour of Biblical preportions but of a miniscule time frame such as the time frame of fame enjoyed by the first fix factor contestants to be voted off the show by the judges before the so called public vote (ah the illusion of choice). Driving on the very last junction of the M1, blinded by the sudden downpour that reduced visability to a meter at best. I had slowed to approximately 50 miles an hour, reducing my speed slowly as I seemed to be driving on the thick layer of water between my wheels a d the tarmac. I found myself in need of the third lane as the cars in front of me had already managed to safely reduce their speed to meet this blanket of rain. All was going well until suddenly the blanket of rain revealed a vehicle, having just clipped a lorry, stationary in the third lane and facing the opposite direction to what it should have been. The next set of events happened in a few seconds but felt like a lifetime. I slammed on my hazard lights whilst simultaneously checking to see if I was about to hit the vehicle I had just overtaken in an attempt to avoid the vehicle and the dazed driver facing me.
I was lucky, I avoided any incident myself and I can say for certain, had I have been driving any faster things would have been very different. My point is this, as we are hitting gargantuan puddles on the right side of the car whilst the left trying to desperately keep the vehicle on the road and no signs of my father slowing down to much more than 65MPH, there is NO place you need to be that you can’t take the extra time to get there safely. Drive to the weather conditions no matter how good you may think you are!
*A little side note, I wrote this post in November. I am publishing now as I have only just stumbled across it again.