I remember the crash as if it were yesterday. It was a beautiful winter’s day. The road surface was packed with snow, and the trees were snow-laden & sparkling in the winter sunlight. But my winter wonderment melted into panic as I rounded a curve and felt my wheels slip. I fixed my sights on the giant Ponderosa looming ever closer, and then, out of nowhere, I heard my father’s voice from the past say, unhelpfully: “Turn into the skid!” But then came the impact. Everything stopped…
Thankfully, my “crash” occurred at low speed, and in my own driveway. The fact is, I had never really understood dad’s ‘Turn into the skid’ saying, let alone had the chance to practice skid recovery. Perhaps you’re like me and you didn’t get much supervised winter driving practice as a young driver. Or perhaps you’re like my dad, in which case the thought of teaching your own teen to drive in winter conditions makes you freeze with dread. In either case, the Deschutes County Skid Car driving class could be worth your while! The Skid Car is outfitted with hydraulic lifts, controlled by the instructor, to simulate the low traction environment of snowy & icy road conditions. To learn more about the Deschutes County Skid Car program and what students learn there, Precision Body & Paint visited Sergeant Dizney at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office, who shared some valuable winter driving tips…
1) Keep your eyes where you want the car to go. It’s true whether your’re on skis, or controlling a skid…if you focus your eyes where you want to go, your body will respond to help you get there. In my regrettable driveway incident, I made the mistake of staring at the tree as I skidded towards it, unable to look away. I would have been better off keeping my eyes where I wanted to the car to go (the driveway) & maneuvering to get the car going in that direction.
2) Good winter drivers are proactive drivers. They understand what causes skids & slides, and thus how to prevent them…or fix them, should that become necessary. Proactive winter driving also means looking ahead far enough to allow yourself to accelerate slowly, decelerate slowly, and avoid having to do anything too quickly. (The most pro-active winter driving measure of all? Enrolling yourself or a teen relative in a Skid Car driving class!)
3) Skid prevention & recovery are skills that require practice. Sergeant Dizney notes that skid control is about weight management – transferring weight to the tire that is sliding. The appropriate response to correct a skid depends on which parts of the car are sliding. Inexperienced drivers are apt to apply the brakes when startled by a skid, when in fact, brakes will worsen the skid. The best time to reflect upon these nuances is in a controlled environment with a skilled instructor at your side…not when you’re all alone and headed for the nearest pine tree.
One of two Skid Car System driving courses available in the state of Oregon, the Deschutes County program is a 4-hour class open to all drivers to help them prevent, control, and recover from skids & slides. So, whether you’re a teen, an adult, or a local business owner with employees who drive in winter, check out this valuable community resource! You can sign up for a class at the Skid Car page on the Deschutes County website, or call Laurie Smith at (541) 385 – 1749. Or Follow Precision Body & Paint on Facebook for a chance to win 1 of 3 free Skid Car gift certificates this winter!
Locally owned Precision Body & Paint is Oregon’s leading independent factory-certified collision repair facility, serving you with 3 locations & over 20 factory authorizations! Learn more: PrecisionFirst.com.