Winter driving class helps drivers prepare for snow, ice

Winter driving class helps drivers prepare for snow, ice »Play Video
An instructor looks on as a driver goes through the slippery course.
AUBURN, Wash. - With cold and icy weather coming, things could get tricky out on Western Washington roadways in the days ahead.

So about 50 people signed up for a winter driving class Saturday in Auburn - learning how to handle treacherous conditions when they hit a slick stretch of pavement.

Fifteen-year-old Max Wienke was one of them. He decided to hone his skills even before he gets his driver's license in February.

"It's a lot of fun. I know it's not real, but I'm hoping this will help me when it is real," he says.

The Triple-A winter driving class, known as Swerve, is open to all drivers, experienced or not, since icy roads can trip anyone up.

"They slam on their brakes immediately because (usually) if you're caught off guard, you stop the car and everything will be fine. But that's not the case in inclement weather like this," says Robert, one of the instructors.

Crews watered down the road and added some instant snow... I gave it a shot.

KOMO News reporter Marlee Ginter climbed behind the wheel and called the experience "nerve-wracking."

Winter driving instructors say that if you slide, you should continue steering in the direction you want to go. Also - triple the normal following distance and remember that ice usually forms on overpasses first.

After the class, Max Wienke's dad called it "an eye-opening experience for him - and for me, too."

"So I can improve my skills and hopefully stay collision-free the rest of my life," says Max.

"Because I want him to come home safely every night and be a good driver," adds his dad.