The heat of summer is the perfect time to practice winter driving skills. Deschutes County’s Skid Car training program has re-opened to the public after a long COVID hiatus.
Who needs snow and ice to practice winter driving skills when Deschutes County’s skid car can replicate the conditions motorists fear, and do it in a safe environment?
“There’s a wheeled frame and hydraulic dolly that attaches to the frame of a regular car,” said Michael Johnston, skid car instructor. “By elevating the car, we can take traction away from the tires and make it skid and slide like it’s on ice and snow any time. It can be on bare pavement. We can use it during inclement weather. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, we can make it slide like its on snow and ice.”
For $100, anyone can learn how to correct a skid or slide such as those that often occur on Central Oregon’s icy roads.
Better yet, skid car training participants learn how to anticipate and prevent loss of control in the first place.
“One of the most important things I learned today is if it’s sliding to the right, turn to the right. If it’s sliding to the left, you turn the wheel to the left,” said Kindra Marcoulier, a skid car trainee.
The program incorporates one hour of classroom instruction followed by three hours of hands-on driving in the skid car.
Participants learn the proper use of antilock brakes and understand the differences between rear wheel drive, front wheel drive, four wheel drive systems and electronic stability control.
“It’s an all around driver enhancement program, not necessarily just winter. Any kind of weather. Any kind of road surface where there might be reduced traction be it dirt and gravel, snow and ice, whatever,” Johnston said. “A skid is a skid. A slide is a slide. It doesn’t matter what caused it or what surface it’s on. You prevent it the same way and you correct it the same way.”
“It is definitely not as scary or intimidating once you are out here doing it,” Marcoulier said. “Now that I have done it, it has definitely calmed some of my fears and encouraged me to tell others. I hope to get my daughter to take this class as well.”
To learn how to be 100% in control of your vehicle, 100% of the time visit the Deschutes County skid car website.