Skid school winter driving tips


A lot of people in this greater Hamilton and Toronto areas woke up to some slick and snowy roads Monday morning. And with the arrival of winter driving season came the predictable number of crashes. The OPP reported an average of one collision every two minutes during the morning rush hour period. And with snow in the forecast every day this week, the slushy conditions are bound to continue.

We thought a visit to skid school for some timely tips on how to drive safely in the wet weather would come in handy.

You’d think as Canadians, we would know how to drive in the snow. But it seems as if every year, when the first flakes fall, we forget to adjust to the conditions. I’d like to think I’m a pretty good driver, but Monday, I found, dealing with a skid on a slippery road is much harder than it looks.

In wet, slushy weather-drivers can lose control in a split second.

Already this year, snowy conditions have caused pileups in Southern Ontario, Indiana, Texas and New York.

Technically, winter hasn’t even started yet. And driving weather is only going to get worse. So, I’m off to skid school to learn how to stay safe on the roads.

Doug Annett is the Owner of Skid Control School in Oakville: “If this was easy, then 400,000 people wouldn’t crash every year in this province.”

Let’s try that again.

Doug instructs Elise: “Steer hard, steer hard. That’s it, good.”

So what can you do to avoid a potentially deadly collision?

Doug says: “Have a plan, have a path that you are expecting the car to take. Where am I going to be in 15 seconds you should be asking yourself.”

If your car does skid out, stay smooth. Resist the temptation to overcorrect.

Doug continues: “You’re not breaking too hard, or steering too hard. That helps the tires retain their control on the surface.”

Above all, keep your distance.

Doug says: “You’ve gotta have space. In order for any of this to work, you’ve got to have room around your car and most importantly, don’t tailgate the guy in front.”

And when in doubt, slow down

Doug: “I think that was the best one yet. Well, you were going a little slower. 5 kilometres an hour makes a huge difference in the timing you’ve created for yourself.”

The three take home points from skid school: Have a plan, stay smooth, and keep your distance. And of course, drive according to weather conditions. When I dropped my speed just five kilometres on the test course, it was incredible how much more control I had.


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