I left with newfound driving skills that I can employ in a flurry (…see what I did there?)
Story by Gloria Chik, also published at UrbaneBloc
Steamboat Springs, CO – A week ago I dipped in and out of Colorado to experience the Bridgestone Winter Driving School. Ushered into the ethereal city of Steamboat Springs, we were welcomed with mountains beyond mountains of snowcapped beauties. 71% of drivers admit that they’re nervous to drive when it’s icy, and countless others are concerned with other treacherous conditions (heavy fog, rain, sleet). So, while we’re on the road, we better make good on our concentration and defensive driving skills.
The driving school was founded in 1983, now in its 33rd season of operation. Attendees come from around the world, from all walks of life. Three tracks, 11 turns, 77-acres, and it sits high up above the ground at 6900 feet above sea level.
Admittedly, I once came from the school of thought that all-season tires would suffice. My fun little coupe was missing out – winter tires do so much of the heavy lifting for you. Equipped with newfound knowledge from Bridgestone’s “Second Gear” course at the driving academy, here are some of the freshest lessons for your winter drives:
Tires Have Technology
I was astonished to learn that tires actually only have a point of contact the size of an 8×11 sheet of paper. With this limited amount of contact with the ground, a lot of thinking goes into the design of the hunk of rubber. The tires in question for the day were the Blizzak WS80’s – modern winter tires are designed to be flexible in the coldest of weather. Flexibility = grip, control, stability. Ain’t nothing wrong with more safety. Other technologies specifically from Bridgestone include special grooves to drain water, ZigZag sipes which increase traction, and Multi-Cell Compound that removes surface level water and improves grip. Bridgestone owns over 10,000 patents, from over $1B in research.
Look Where You Want to Go
Something about our instincts, like in life, bring us to where our vision takes us. 80% of accidents could be prevented if we had an additional second to react, so keep sharp and stay aware of your surroundings
Rentals Aren’t Normally Equipped for Winter
I’m probably not as thorough as I should be when it comes to picking up a rental car. Check to make sure that you have the right tires if you’re heading out to a snowy destination. If you’re lacking winter tires on your rental, beware that you may experience some challenges on the road during your trip.
White is bright, don’t forget about that. It’s easy to forget that winter sun is actually many times, glaringly bright. Bring a pair of your favorite shades along for the ride, it’ll help you see clearly, and keep you looking cool (even when it’s cooler outside).
It was a full day of driving on track – full of braking exercises, icy turns, and coping with understeering and overstreering situations. I left with newfound driving skills that I can employ in a flurry (…see what I did there?)
The event was complete with a talk by Bonnie Blair, a five time gold medalist speed skater (and yes, she joined us on the track).
Happy winter driving, road warriors!
Event: Bridgestone Winter Driving School Gallery
*Photography by Ajani Charles*