Driving and Drive

This is a two topic blog post written hilariously late.

As a long time New Englander, someone who grew up in and learned to drive in the snowy mountains of Vermont, and someone who has a very strong interest in driving and motor-sports, I consider myself a great winter driver.  I’ve spent several days in Seattle (those few times it actually snowed) laughing at the ineptitude of Seattle drivers in the snow, and generally fared quite well driving around Massachusetts and Vermont regardless of the weather and conditions.  I always run good snow tires, and (until this latest winter) have all-wheel drive vehicles.

In spite of all that, every time I go to Winter Driving School I’m completely blown away by how much more I learn and how much improvement I make as a driver.  The Winter Driving School I attend is a two day event in New Hampshire, organized by the local Audi group, and put on at the Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton, NH.  There are many winter driving schools in the area and anywhere in the world there is snow, so I’m sure you can find one near you.

The best part of Winter Driving School is that anyone can do it.  It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, how old or young you are, how much experience or lack thereof you have.  Anyone can do it.  And learn a TON.  Each time I’ve gone it’s been a wide mix: teenagers who’ve just gotten their licenses, semi-professional rally or race car drivers, grandparents.  Women and men, girls and boy, driving everything from specialized rally cars to modified Audis and Subarus to stock station wagons to SUVs to pickup trucks to Geos.  You name it, I’m sure someone has driven it there.  And everyone learns a TON!  With an instructor riding in your passenger seat, you can work at your level, focusing on whatever you want to or whatever your instructor sees as your weakness.  You can go as slow or as fast as you are comfortable with (and safe with).  You can do tidy three point turns or snow flinging all-wheel drifts.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who drives – of any age, gender, ability, experience, and vehicle.

Learning to drive better in the snow is important for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, snow and ice can be treacherous and being able to handle whatever comes up makes you a much safer driver in the winter, for you, your family, and everyone you share the road with.  Secondly, all the physics and vehicle dynamics in the snow and ice are the same as they are on the dry pavement in the summer, just at different speeds.  That means you can practice and improve on how you handle skidding or sliding or otherwise losing control of your vehicle at low speeds with the safety of snow banks around you, and apply those same skills/understanding/reactions during high speed dry pavement emergencies.  The exactly same stuff applies.  This is also true for non-emergency race track behavior.  Winter Driving School has made a HUGE difference in my abilities on the race track in the summer.  It’s the best off-season training you can do.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to attend a winter driving school this coming winter season!

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On a barely related note I watched the movie Drive recently.  I was really impressed with the movie.  I felt like the direction, cinematography, and use of the soundtrack and score to set the mood and drive the story really was an amazingly well done effort.  Its a very unusual movie, unlike most movies I’ve seen, and very worth watching.  It does have some heavy violence in the 2nd half of the movie which, strangely for me, I felt actually detracted a bit from the movie.  Typically I’m all for lots of action and combat in movies, but in this case I wish the director had left out a few scenes and graphic details which I felt cheapened or at least distracted from the usual high quality of the rest of the film.