Calgary Winter Driving: Hellish (In a Frozen Way)

So here I am, driving home from church this morning, thinking about how incredibly poor the driving conditions are – it took me about twice as long to get to church as normal this morning because I had to slow down so much in order to be safe. For the past month or so, I’ve also been thinking about trying winter tires this year. I’ve never owned winter tires before, but as I thought about what it’s like to drive our two cars on snow and ice – essentially controlled skidding – I thought it might be time to give winter tires a shot. On my way back from church as I was nearing my home, I was marvelling at how the heavy slush made control so difficult – and about one second later I completely lost control of my car (I was driving the Mazda Protege 5). I was heading down a very slight incline, only 30 seconds away from my house, and doing about 25 kmph, and I started sliding to my right. I immediately realized I couldn’t regain control, so I went into damage control mode, aiming my car for a gap between a parked car (on the left), and a fence (on the right). I managed to pull it off, sliding up onto the sidewalk and into a green space area that is also the start of a walking path. Unfortunately there was a large metal pole at the start of the walking path, and I smashed into it.

In the above photo, if you look at the set of tire tracks on the left, the inside tire track is from my left wheel when I was sliding in – I missed the parked car by about four feet. You can see the pole in the middle of the green space area – it was under my car and near the back…so I slid quite far.

This is what I hit – I tried to put it back in, but it didn’t quite want to fit. I’m grateful that the City of Calgary made it a break-away pole…if it was held in place by concrete, I would have caused much more damage to my car (and myself).

And here’s the damage done – it doesn’t look like much, but “not much” in auto terms usually means $1000 to $2000, easily. Since it’s essentially one piece, the whole front bumper will likely need to be replaced.

I’m kicking myself for losing control of the car – the last thing I need right now (OK, ever) is $2000 in car repairs – but I keep telling myself that it could have been much worse if I’d slid into the parked car…then I’d be dealing with not only repairing my own car, but another car as well. I’d have to chose between paying out-of-pocket, or going through insurance and having them hike my rates. Speaking of insurance, I’m reminded once again of how much disdain I have for insurance companies; we’re insured by ING Direct, and like all insurance companies, they consider losing control on icy roads to be an “at fault” accident. Yes, it was my fault because I was driving, but it baffles me that I pay a large monthly fee for insurance against accidents, and when I have an accident, I can’t get it covered. Insurance companies suck – and evidently, so so does my driving skill on snow and nice…