Becoming a good driver doesn??t happen overnight. It takes time and experience behind the wheel. With the combination of snow covered/slippery roads and occasional white-out conditions, driving in the U.P. can be a difficult task. Michigan Tech offers winter driving school at the Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) to help people become better winter drivers. ??They learn proper breaking techniques and also how to handle different types of car skids in all kinds of different drive system-type cars,?? said KRC Program Manager Mark Osborne. KRC does provide cars for the lessons and one of the first things the participants learn is cadence...a pumping technique that keeps the breaks from locking up. ??Things aren??t always as they seem or you're usually taught, like, when you??re breaking to let off the break to gain traction; usually you just slam on the break,?? said participant Ross Stuart. Drivers also learn panic avoidance techniques, and as a born and raised California girl, it was time for me to get behind the wheel and learn about the second part of the course?|oversteering and understeering. ??We??ll drive around a circle track on packed snow and kind of fish tail the car, and also we??ll drive on a windy loop,?? Osborne said. ??They??re pretty slippery surfaces, and if a car understeers or doesn??t turn when you want it to, we??ll teach you how to correct that.?? Experts say snow tires are a necessity because they help keep a firm grip on the roads. After a full day of learning how to become a better driver in this winter weather, the people who take this course can leave feeling more confidant and better able to handle different driving situations when they're out on the roads.
The one-day course is only offered on weekends for $150. KRC also offers a two-day winter course upon request.
If you??re interested, call the Keweenaw Research Center at (906) 487-2750.