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Driving in Snow for The First Time: What You Need to Know

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Updated December 24, 2022

Whether you've just moved to a wintery climate and have never experienced driving in the snow, or you've just gotten your learner's permit or driver's license and your driving in the snow for the first time – it can be a scary experience. 

If you're one of the many individuals who have a fear of driving in snow for the first time, it's important to remember you are not alone. 

Fear of Driving in the Snow is Very Real 

According to a recent survey, approximately 44% of Americans are scared of driving, with 21% percent of them stating that their top driving phobia is driving in the snow, ice, or rain. This fear is likely exacerbated for those who have never driven in these conditions before, such as those new to the road or those moving into a new area with an unfamiliar climate. 

These fears are completely within reason due to the driver's unfamiliarity with the situation. After all, driving in the snow presents quite a few hazards, including:

  • Wet roads/Increased chances of hydroplaning
  • Icy roadways
  • Increased risk of car accidents 
  • Uncertainty of the drivers around you
  • Snowy roads can create blinding conditions

While these are all reasonable things to be afraid of when driving in the snow for the first time, millions of individuals have entirely irrational fears of driving in the snow.

driving in snow for the first time

Fear or Phobia?

Phobias are defined as an extreme and/or irrational fear of something. For example, the fear of driving and or riding in a vehicle is known as Amaxophobia. It also goes by the names:

  • Ochophobia
  • Motorphobia
  • Hamaxophobia

Psychologists state that this phobia is characterized by the significant distress caused by the thought of driving and/or riding in a car, as well as all fear-based efforts to avoid having to drive. 

While fear is rational, phobias aren't, and they are typically triggered by the idea of something bad happening. With phobias, the thought process goes something like this:

"If I get in the car and drive in these snowy conditions, I will crash, and I will die."

Whereas, with fears, the process looks something like this:

"If I get in the car and drive in these snowy conditions, there is a small chance I could end up in an accident." 

The varying level of severity is what set's this particular fear apart from the phobia. The fear is recognizing that yes, something can happen, while the phobia dictates the person's thoughts, telling them that they will die in a car accident if they drive in the snow. 

The good news? A very small percentage of individuals are believed to suffer from a phobia of driving, around 12.5%. That means, for most, the fear of driving in snow for the first time is just that – a fear, and there are ways to help ease your anxiety. 

3 Ways to Ease Anxiety Over Driving in Snow for The First Time

While a phobia of driving needs to be addressed by a licensed professional, for those suffering from a fear of driving in the snow for the first time, there are several ways to help calm your anxieties.

1. Ride with Someone You Trust Behind the Wheel

By taking a ride with a trusted driver, you can calm some of your fears because you'll get to witness the fact that driving in the snow, while potentially dangerous, can be done with ease. Think of this as just another driving lesson. The person you are riding with can talk you through starting your vehicle, checking the roadways, and getting on the road. Once you start to see how simple it can be, your anxieties may start to subside.

fear of driving in snow

2. Properly Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Driving

Taking the necessary precautions to maintain a safe vehicle can do wonders to calm your anxieties over driving in the snow for the first time. Whether it be swapping your tires out for snow tires or equipping your car with an emergency kit – the proper winter maintenance tips can help you adequately prepare for any worst-case scenario. 

3. Acknowledge Your Anxiety and Push Past It

Sometimes the best way to deal with your anxieties is to simply acknowledge it and push past it. That means if you're afraid to drive in the snow, but you already have taken the necessary precautions to winterize your car properly, then it's time to take a deep breath and push those anxieties aside. Once you've buckled your seatbelt and put the car in drive, you'll be surprised at just how easily your anxiety will start to melt away. Afterall, practice makes perfect – and the more practice you get, the more confident you'll become. 

best way to drive in snow

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Stay Safe When Driving in Snow for The First Time

It's true – driving in the snow for the first time can be a scary experience for anyone. However, learning the best way to dive in the snow and practicing the best driving techniques for snowy conditions can go a long way to help you mentally prepare yourself to hit the road on your own. 

However, if you experience extreme anxiety symptoms, you may need to invest in extra help from a psychiatrist or even invest in extra driving lessons to help you get more experience behind the wheel in a safe setting.

With the right options, you can overcome your fears and anxiety. 

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