Bit chilly out isn’t it? I have a real love/hate relationship with cold weather. I love to idea of being wrapped up warm in my (faux) fur coat and ugg boots and going on a lovely walk, but in reality I just get really hot and sweaty under my clothes and my hands and face turn in to an uncomfortable pink glow. Not to mention the ol’ dermatitis flaring up too! Ergh. The other reason I’m not keen on cold weather is because some how, people just can’t seem to drive in cold conditions? I feel like a lot of the time accidents are more likely caused by these people who are concentrating SO hard and driving SO slow for no reason, than those who actually learnt more about driving in cold conditions and can go at a safe/average speed!
Recently I was invited by LV Car Insurance to take a little course in the art of skidding to help my own winter road safety. Even though my little Fiat Panda can tackle a good icy hill (over taking 2 cars which were stuck the other day. Jezza Clarkson eat your heart out) I do have to go through quite a a few country lanes which often lack grit on my way to work first thing in the morning. I’m accustomed to the *right* way to drive in snow and ice anyway really, but even the best of us need a pointer or two.
Do you like how the girl who didn’t drive on a motorway for 6 years after passing her test is coming across all Barry Big Time of the driving world here?
Anyway, we went to Skid Course at Car Control in Manchester. Taking place on a massive car park by the ETIHAD stadium, we spent an hour learning how to control the car in a skid through the powers of some weird stabilisers on the side of the car. When controlled with a button inside, these made the car react as though in potentially dangerous scenarios. The first thing we learnt was how to take control of the car if you did actually skid in dry conditions. When your car skids in dry conditions you have slightly more control than you would in wet, icy conditions, but the first rule remains the same: take your foot off the pedal. Whether it’s on the accelerator or brake. If it was on the accelerator, the rule we learnt was ‘in a spin, both feet in’ which meant we had to slam the brakes and clutch down as soon as we hit the skid.
However, the main point was not to get IN to a skid in the first place and keep complete control of the care. The next thing we learnt was how to drift around corners, which despite being in a clapped out BMW still made us feel like we were extras in The Fast and the Furious. The trick to this is looking at the road ahead to where you want to go not the immediate road to where you are. This means that your eyes are doing the steering and not your hands and you will naturally go to the point you are driving to. When going in to the bend you take the pressure off the accelerator and then touch back on it when you feel a certain point in the bend when your bum tilts to a side. Sounds all a bit odd that, but if you’ve ever tried to drift round a corner then maybbbbeee you know what I mean? Anyway it’s all about not rushing, not powering down the pedals and looking well ahead to where your destination points are.
We also learnt how to drive on sheet ice. The first tip was do not drive on sheet ice, but if we didn’t try it for the purposes of the course it would have been a bit silly wouldn’t it? As we went round the circuit the instructor pressed his magical button and immediately the car lost grip as we tried to turn the corner. Now, you naturally want to full lock to the direction you want the car to go, but if you full lock then your car literally just glides straight forward. The secret is to not panic steer and turn the wheel less than a quarter of the way round. This will counteract the ice and your car will at least try to start going in the direction you need, rather than heading straight forward as it would with a fill turn of the wheel. If the car still doesn’t turn, pump the wheel backwards and forwards to add friction.
After the skid course, it did feel a little strange to drive normally again, but it was kind of fun. Strange how learning to be safe can make a bangin’ afternoon activity, eh!
Big thanks to LV Car Insurance for arranging!