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Keeping your family safe, traveling treacherous roads in the winter

Road America in Plymouth offers in-person classes for families hoping to improve their winter-driving skills, and parents are encouraged to join their teens to learn more.
Posted at 4:42 AM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 07:43:49-05

PLYMOUTH (NBC 26) — Wisconsin drivers don't always adapt to the changing weather conditions, especially during the winter.

That's why Road America in Plymouth is offering an opportunity for drivers of every ability to test their response times and get a feel for the region's slick and snow-covered roads.

Many people have found themselves in the scenario where they've been late for work after a snowfall, and instead of giving yourself extra time, you choose to take a chance and start driving like it's any other day, but Road America instructor Larry Boyer says that's when crashes are more likely to happen.

"When you don't change your mindset and how you drive, then you're going to get in an accident, and we see it every snowfall," Boyer said.

Boyer is one of 25 instructors at Road America, and he offered a glimpse of what one of these courses looks like—most importantly, how to avoid a crash and stop when roads are slick.

He says drivers should always test their vehicle after a recent snowfall to see how well it handles and stops, and then he advises drivers to increase their following distance when traveling on snow-covered roads.

Boyer says could mean a hundred feet when trying to stop in snow, and it could be even longer when trying to stop on ice.

MacLeod asked Boyer, "If people are going to be shopping for tires especially around the winter time, what recommendations would you have? Is it all-season, all-weather?"

Boyer responded, "If you're going to live in Wisconsin and have an alternate set of tires, I say, "Go get snow tires.""

Aside from buying snow tires, Boyer encourages parents to take a winter weather driving class with their kids—especially if they're a new driver and haven't had a lot of experience on Wisconsin's slick roads.

"You have to start building that portfolio of experience that allows you to be a safe driver. They'll do six or seven exercises and two or three classes, but at the end believe it or not, they're probably 80-90 percent of other drivers on the road," Boyer said.

He says it doesn't really matter what you're driving, your experience in slick conditions will always help.

"All-wheel drive is great, but what does it do in this instance right here? It helps us get off the line better, but it's not helping us stop better, and it's not helping us turn better," Boyer said.

Due to the recent blast in winter weather, driving classes are starting to fill up at Road America, but you can still sign up between now and the middle of March, weather permitting.