Winter driving 101: Staying safe on slippery roads

By Evrod Cassimy - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - Winter driving conditions will be here before we know it. Knowing how to stay safe on the roads while behind the wheel could mean the difference between life and death. Criminals don't take the winter off, which means police officers need to be extra careful when chasing after bad guys.

"They're learning practically," said Schoolcraft College instructor Fred Stanton. "They're actually hands on. They're driving the vehicles with instructors in the car."

Before the snow begins to stick to the roads, area police officers are brushing up on their winter driving skills with special training. They're practicing driving on simulated icy roads with the help of a specially rigged police car.

"That vehicle is set up with a hydraulic system," said Stanton. "That hydraulic system has the ability to lift the vehicle so it changes the grip between the road and the vehicle itself."

It looks like a car on training wheels but with the help of a remote control, our instructor, Fred, can lift the front or back tires off the ground. This causes the driver to lose control of steering and simulates driving on ice. They practice on this 10 acre driving course at Schoolcraft College

"We have different courses set up," he said. "We have a braking course set up, we have an evasive steer maneuver set up, we have 90 degree turns, how to manipulate 90 degree turns, we have lane change and we have an accumulate course."

Ahead of the winter driving season. Stanton encourages drivers to get a vehicle inspection to make sure your car is safe to drive on snow and ice. While driving keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. Slow down before a turn. Read the road, keeping your eyes open for icy patches. Also be a proactive driver, don't be reactive. And after a brief refresher course it was time for Local 4's Evrod Cassimy to test his winter driving skills.

"This is easy so far!" said Cassimy.

What started out easy, quickly got more difficult as Fred took away more and more steering control.

"That simulates you just hit an ice patch going into a turn," said Fred.

"How'd I do?" asked Cassimy.

"(Laughs) You ran off a little bit!"

And with no steering control, each turn showed Cassimy just how easy it is to skid out of control on the roads. Whether you're a seasoned driver orĀ  new to winter driving in Michigan, it's important to keep these tips in mind. Even the best of drivers can make a costly mistake that could mean the difference between life and death.

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