'Skid car' slick way to prep for winter driving

Instructors explain what to do on icy roads

Safe travels: Winter driving tips

BEND, Ore. - Driving during the winter can be a dangerous,but only if you don't have the knowledge to stay safe on the road.

"Four wheels driving you in one direction is great, but when they're driving you in a direction you don't want to be going, that's no good," Mark Larson, the owner of Deschutes Driver Education, said Tuesday.

Larson teaches a winter safety driving class every year.

His biggest tips for winter drivers: Increase your stopping distance to about six seconds, and slow down.

"Overall, you're going to get there, but you're going to get there safely," said Larson

Another tip: It is illegal not to fully clear your windshield, or other windows. So take time to prepare your car before driving.

Larson says a flashlight and first aid kit should always be in your car. However during the winter, you should also have an ice scraper, water, food and of course, a bag of kitty litter. Not for your pet, but for when you get stuck.

"It provides a little bit of a traction there (behind the wheels)," said Larson.

To stay out of those sticky situations, Larson says to always take the weather into consideration.

"It really takes you a lot longer to stop in rain, snow, ice than it does on dry pavement," said Larson.

So what happens if you can't stop? Well, that's where Michael Johnston's class comes in.

"Basically, there's only three things that will cause the car to skid or slide: Misuse of the steering, misuse of the brakes or misuse of the accelerator," he said.

In a skid, if the car slides right, turn the wheel right. Do not brake in a slide, and stay calm.

"The car goes where you look," Johnston said.

The Skid Car is mounted on a wheel frame with a hydraulic dolly. Adjusted by Johnston, the extra wheels can create the feeling of slick driving conditions, even on the driest of days.

It's a good way to practice, and overcome fears.

"It's the, 'Oh my gosh, it's going fast -- oh wait, I can slow this down, I have control,'" said Karen Belsey, who took the class for her first time on Tuesday. She lives in Portland and said she has been scared to drive over the passes.

Deschutes Driver Education will host its annual winter driver education class on Wednesday, Dec.  4th from 6 to 8 p.m. To find out how to sign up visit their website at

For more information on the SkidCar class you can call (541)385-1749  or visit

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