Our Chief Meteorologist Joe Murgo went to the Winter Weather Summit at Stratton Vermont earlier this month. Several of the talks were about winter weather safety, but Joe had the opportunity to get some hands on experience in winter weather driving with the Team O’Neil Rally Driving School.
Students use their own vehicles in this course as they navigate through a course of snow, ice and mud at speeds greater than one should. They learn how to use what their own cars have to offer to tackle the worst conditions. Opening it up on a safe ice course is fun, but it is quite important to learn how to control your own car.
According to Tim O’Neil, the majority of their customers are coming for the fun of it but they want to learn more about winter driving, like how to get out of a skid . This helps to build confidence through knowledge and experience. More confidence than just saying an all-wheel drive vehicle is all you need. In fact, according to Tim, driving a large truck or suv may get you moving better, but you may be at a disadvantage driving such a heavier vehicle. You can accelerate faster and get better traction but these heavier vehicles stop at a lot slower rate than other vehicles on the roads which puts them at risk.
One of the most important tips is to have proper tires. In fact, having good winter tires provides more help than having an all-wheel drive vehicle.
Other great tips are if you are losing control, look at where you want to go, not what you want to miss. Also, if your vehicle is slipping in deeper snow, turning off the automatic traction control can help you go. That’s something that a lot of people would not think of.
And the most important tip from the pros…. Count on leaving early. Giving yourself more time. Leaving earlier when it snows will lower stress and the risk of an accident.
Here is the raw video from when Joe took the wheel in the course.