Late last winter, I was part of a group of media which visited the Bridgestone Winter Driving School. This trip was more of a presser to acquaint some of we writers with Bridgestone's Blizzak winter tire line than it was to sell us on the school but, nevertheless, one couldn't help but be impressed with the school itself.
The school runs each Winter in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, one of the few places in the country which has consistently cold weather for a long stretch of winter but also has plenty of hotels and airline service. We didn't take the full winter driving class. What we got is condensed version which both fit it into a half-a-day and to gave us enough coaching on snow and ice driving so we could properly evaluate the tires that afternoon. In spite of the condensed circulium, the teaching we received showed me enough of how the Bridgestone Winter School works to tell you that the instruction there is top notch. While the school offers a wide-range of course levels--from very simple winter driving basics all the way to advanced skills used by rally and ice racing drivers--its core customer are those who are required to drive public roads in the worst winter weather and get there in a safe, efficient manner. Examples are: delivery drivers--FedEx, UPS and so forth--taxi companies which operate in snow and ice, long-haul truckers, bus operators, the military, public utilities along with everyday folks who must drive, regardless of weather conditions, such as route salespeople or long-distance commuters.
Now, having lived in the northeast for a few years and having spent a lot of time in the inter-mountain west, I've got a fair amount of winter driving under my belt. One Thanksgiving week I drove a Corvette, my 1995 ZR-1, across a snowy, icy Interstate 40 in Colorado. In recent years, most of the winter driving I've done has been in west-central Wyoming in a '99 Chevy Blazer with 4WD, locking diff in the rear axle and aggressive off-road at all four corners. In that truck, I've yet to encounter a winter driving challenge I couldn't meet. That includes the steep, winding gravel road leading to our family's winter retreat in Etna, Wyoming in the dead of winter at -20° with a foot of new-fallen snow on top of hard-packed snow and ice.
After a couple of hours of instruction at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, I was driving the school's instruction track in a Toyota Camry (front wheel drive and no limited slip) fitted with four of Bridgestone's, new, Blizzak WS-60 severe-snow-rated street radials in a slightly faster, certainly more controlled and obviously safer manner then I'd ever been in the Blazer.
At this writing winter has arrived in parts of the country which see freezing temperatures. It's time to think about winter driving safety. If you want to learn to drive an ordinary passenger car (even a Vette), SUV or light truck efficiently and in the worst of weather, yet remain safe and in control; I heartily recommend the Bridgestone Winter Driving School http://www.winterdrive.com/. If you're looking for the best in street tires for driving on show- and ice-covered roads, consider Bridgestone's Blizzak line. http://www.bridgestonetire.com/