Driver's ed for snowy, icy conditions?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

Can you recommend a driving school for someone who refuses to drive in snow or ice because she's had one too many accidents under those conditions? -- Susan

RAY: I'm going to assume, Susan, that "someone" is you, in this case. And I have to say, I'm reluctant to encourage you to drive in ice and snow, because the roads ARE unsafe in those conditions.

TOM: No matter how carefully you drive, or how skilled a driver you are, ice and snow create very-low-traction conditions. And even if you learn how to drive under those conditions, it's no guarantee that some other overconfident meatball in an SUV isn't going to slide across three lanes and knock your Festiva into Bryce Canyon.

RAY: That said, there ARE things you can learn about how to maintain control on snow and ice -- most importantly, go slowly, and anticipate every turn and stop so you can do everything gently. The best-known school for this stuff is the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colo. (800-WHY SKID).

TOM: They teach things like how to avoid skids, how to control a skid once you're in it and how to build a killer snowman while you're waiting for the tow truck to pull you out of the snow bank.

RAY: If the Bridgestone school is too far away or too expensive for you, they also sell a videotape and booklet about winter driving that you might find helpful.

TOM: But there's nothing like real, live instruction. So you might also try to find a driving instructor in your area with some expertise in winter driving. Check your yellow pages under "Driving Schools," or do a Google search ( under "Winter Driving School" or "Winter Driving Instruction" on the Web. But before you sign up, ask for references. Snow-and-ice driving is a specialized field of expertise, and very few general-driving instructors really know a lot about it.

RAY: So we'd encourage you to seek out some lessons, Susan. At the very least, it'll give you more confidence for when you HAVE to drive in snow or ice. But do keep in mind my brother's approach to icy and snowy roads: Call in sick.

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