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Bridgestone Winter Driving School 2010                                                                 

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With record snows occurring weekly, winter tires have become a must have for drivers seeking to get where they need to go.  The Bridgestone Blizzak line of tires is the best performing winter tire from our previous tests and when you compare user reviews from various sources.  We recently tested the new WS-70 winter tire on a icy and snowy track in Steamboat Springs Colorado and found out first hand just how grippy a winter tire can be.


For those thinking that winter tires are just a pain to change over to in these hard economic times, think again.  A small bumper to bumper can cost you weeks at the repair shop and a hefty insurance deductible.  For the small price of buying winter tires that will last for years and paying to change over to them yearly you can drive better, safer, and avoid any accidents or repairs. 

tireThe advantages are big when you switch to winter tires.  The Blizzaks stop 3 feet shorter when compared to another winter tire brand. Comparing winter tires to all season tires will lead to a distance gap of more than a car length on everyday snowy roads.   Watch our video on how the tire handles on ice to see the difference and also see how a car reacts when each side of a car is fitted with different tires. This was a great test we did not see before and it really showed us the extra grip provided by the Blizzak's.

The Bridgestone Winter Driving school in Colorado is one of the finest winter driving experiences you can have in the world.  It operates from mid December through early March.  Here we drove cars and SUV’s with Blizzak tires and compared them to other brands as well as all season tires.  What you cannot see in the video is the amazing feeling behind the wheel of a car with the Blizzak tires on its wheels.  The ice is grippier, the steering wheel sends much more feedback to your hands, and the car always feels in control.  This superb feeling of control is easily lost even when using another winter tire, mainly due to the superb technology used when making these winter tires.  Hopefully the US will follow Canada in mandating winter tires on all cars to make driving safer and more fun in icy conditions. 


If you are interested in learning to drive in ice and snow and in skiing to your hearts content in a beautiful small town setting, the winter driving school in Steamboat Springs Colorado is a must do vacation every few years!  See for more information on the driving school and keep your browser coming back for a long term in depth test of the WS70 in the near future. 

Below is a article put out by the driving school for everyone’s benefit in these wintery conditions.  Safe Driving


Many people believe that quick reactions make a good driver. The world's best drivers are trained to anticipate problems early and direct the vehicle appropriately before becoming involved in a problem. Reacting too quickly can be dangerous if the driver's response is inappropriate. Remember to anticipate problems, respond to them early, avoid panic, and maintain your calm. The driver and vehicle are equally important to success on ice and snow. Winter driving can, and should, be an enjoyable and hazard-free experience for everyone.

PREPARE FOR WINTER CONDITIONS – Car problems that are a nuisance in the summer can turn dangerous in winter. A thorough check of the cooling, charging, braking and suspension systems is a must; don’t wait until the first winter storm. Proper vehicle maintenance gives the driver the ability to focus on driving, not car problems, when conditions deteriorate.

USE WINTER TIRES IN WINTER CONDITIONS - Be aware that an all-season tire is a compromise that will not perform as well as a winter tire. Two identical vehicles, one with all-season tires and one with purpose built winter tires, will have very different performance levels; traction may vary by as much as fifty percent. If your car has all-season tires, remember that the car in front of you may have winter tires and be able to stop up to 50% faster than you. To maximize safety and control, use the best winter tires available. We recommend the Bridgestone Blizzak winter tire. This studless tire is revolutionary and is considered by many to be a quantum leap in snow tire technology.

SUSPENSION - Shocks and struts are critical to handling, as every bit of vehicle performance helps on ice and snow. Road adhesion is directly influenced by shock absorber or strut performance. Worn shocks or struts can cause excessive weight transfer, which reduces the ability of the tires to grip the road.

BATTERY – A dead battery is an annoyance during the summer but can become a life-threatening problem during a winter blizzard. Even a new battery may lose as much as 40 percent of its cold cranking ability in cold weather, and a worn battery can lose even more. Have your battery tested before winter arrives.

CHECK EXHAUST SYSTEM FOR LEAKS – Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Don’t let a simple exhaust leak ruin a trip or your life.

WINTER WIPER BLADES – Replace worn wiper blades with new winter blades. Many drivers replace their wiper blades annually when they put on their snow tires.

WARM UP YOUR CAR AND CLEAR ALL SNOW AND ICE – Visibility is crucial. Safe and responsible vehicle operation requires that front, rear, and side windows are clear. Snow left on the hood will blow onto your windshield and clog wipers as speed increases. Snow left on the roof will blow off and obscurethe rear window and the windshield of the car behind you. Clearing headlights and taillights will allow you to be seen.

CHECK FOR SNOW AND ICE IN THE WHEEL WELLS – Snow and ice in wheel wells could be detrimental to the control and health of your vehicle. Clear out any snow with a durable scraper. To help prevent snow build up on a slushy day, spray the wheel wells with silicone.

BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING – Even if you don’t become stuck, you may be parked or delayed for extended periods due to accidents, road closures, avalanches or poor visibility. Make sure you are prepared by carrying adequate winter clothes, supplies and emergency equipment in your car. Don’t assume that your trip will be short and easy. At a minimum, carry these essentials items: winter boots, gloves, hats, food, water, cell phone charger, blanket or sleeping bag, shovel, flashlight (with extra batteries), tow strap, and jumper cables.

TEST ROAD CONDITIONS FREQUENTLY- When driving in challenging conditions, determine how much traction, or grip, is available. Make sure that no one is behind you and hit the brakes firmly until the wheels lock up. This will give you a clear indication of the grip available at that particular time. Over the course of a long trip, repeat this test to continually monitor grip.

KNOW YOUR CAR - KNOW YOUR BRAKES – In everyday driving situations, cars both with and without ABS (anti-lock brakes) are basically identical. In an emergency stopping situation, however, two distinctly different techniques are required. With non-ABS brakes, the cadence, or pumping technique, is effective, but the driver must lift off of the brake if steering is required to avoid an obstacle. The beauty of ABS is that pressing the brake pedal as hard as possible and holding it there allows the computer to pump the brakes while still maintaining some steering effectiveness. Remember that ABS can’t perform miracles: if you feel ABS engaging during everyday driving, slow down, because you are exceeding the reasonable speed for the conditions.

ANTICIPATE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS – Studies have shown that 80% of all accidents could be prevented with only one additional second to react. In many situations, this one second can be gained by looking far enough down the road to identify problems.

VEHICLE SPACING ON THE ROAD – Allow plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles. It takes from four to ten times more distance to stop on ice and snow than on dry pavement. Following distances should be adjusted accordingly.

VEHICLE BEHAVIOR: OVERSTEER & UNDERSTEER – When your rear wheels skid, and the vehicle begins to spin, the vehicle is OVERsteering. Don’t panic – stomping the brake pedal will only make the situation worse. The proper correction is to steer into the skid (point the wheels in the direction that you would rather be going) and accelerate smoothly. Smooth acceleration will cause a weight transfer to the rear wheels and help regain grip. In a rear wheel drive vehicle, oversteer can be caused by too much acceleration. In this situation, steer into the skid and release the accelerator until grip is regained.

UNDERSTEER – When your vehicle refuses to turn in a curve, and the front wheel are skidding, the vehicle is UNDERsteering. Don’t panic – the natural tendency to hit the brake and turn the steering wheel more will make the situation drastically worse. To correct understeer, lift off the accelerator, and turn back toward straight a slight amount, allowing the front wheel to regain grip and start rolling again. Once grip and steering effectiveness are restored, you can smoothly steer back in to the curve. This correction goes against natural instinct and takes considerable room to perform but is the only way to correct understeer.

BEWARE OF “PHANTOM SHOULDER” ON ROADS – As snow plows clear the roadway, they use a side-mounted “wing” blade to push snow well off the side of the road. Many times what appears to be a very wide road or wide shoulder is in fact only snow plowed to the same level as the roadway, hiding steep drop offs. If you must pull to the side of the road, do so slowly and be prepared to steer smoothly back toward the road if the vehicle begins to sink.

USE GRIP (TRACTION) EFFICIENTLY - When roads are slippery, use all of the grip (traction) available for one action at a time. Brake only in a straight line prior to the curve when the car is traveling straight. Taking your foot off the brake before you steer into the curve allows you to use all of the grip available just for steering. Accelerate only when you are able to straighten the steering wheel at the exit of the turn. This technique will allow you to be 100% effective at each maneuver- braking, steering and acceleration.

BE ALERT AT INTERSECTIONS AND ON HILLS – Intersections and hills are typically the slipperiest portions of the roadway. With numerous drivers braking in the same area, ice becomes ultra-smooth and polished. In the case of hills, numerous drivers may be spinning tires in the same area with an identical result. By identifying these areas, drivers can brake or accelerate in areas that offer better grip, such as in fresh snow, or areas that are not so polished. When stopping on ice, brake harder early and then become lighter on the pedal as the car slows. This allows for precise adjustment in the event that you encounter a surprisingly slippery spot.

TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS - Whenever daytime visibility is less than perfect, turning on your lights allows you to see, and just as important, to be seen by others. Remember this rule of thumb: Wipers On - Lights On. When traveling in snowy weather, remember to clear your taillights, signal lights, and headlamps regularly. High-quality fog lights, mounted low and aimed properly (low and wide), offer a dramatic improvement in low-visibility conditions. Remember to turn fog lights off in city traffic; it’s just not practical or polite to leave them on.

WHEN DRIVING AT NIGHT – Leave headlamps on low beam when driving in snow and fog. This practice minimizes reflection and glare, improves visibility, and reduces eye fatigue. When oncoming cars approach, focus on the right side of the roadway to help maintain good vision.

DON'T OVERESTIMATE THE CAPABILITY OF SUVs - Many drivers mistakenly believe that four-wheel drive is a cure-all. SUVs do have specific benefits, but they have limitations as well. Every type of vehicle, regardless of which wheels propel the car, depends on four small contact patches where the tire meets the road for traction. This small contact area is the limiting factor of any vehicle on a slippery surface. Four-wheel drive does not improve braking or cornering effectiveness.

LEARN TO READ THE TERRAIN – Bridges and overpasses become icy faster than normal roads. Why? The earth is warm, and non-elevated roads have the warmth of the earth underneath them. They therefore stay a few degrees warmer than bridges and overpasses. Also, shady areas cool more quickly than areas in full sun. At dusk or the onset of a winter storm, take notice of areas that do not get direct sun and expect ice there. The shadows from large trees, buildings, mountains and even billboards can cause isolated icy spots. With just a bit of practice, drivers can identify these problem spots in advance.

RENTAL VEHICLES ARE TYPICALLY EQUIPPED WITH ALL SEASON TIRES, INCLUDING FOUR AND ALL-WHEEL DRIVES – Be advised that an all-season tire even with a M&S (mud and snow) rating is a compromise and will not provide as much traction as a true snow and ice tire. Many drivers mistakenly believe that four- and all-wheel drives are all powerful, but those drive configurations cannot overcome the laws of physics.

FLOOR MATS FOR TRACTION – The floor mats of most vehicles can be used as a tool if you are stuck. Simply turn the mats upside down and place them under the drive wheels as a traction aid.

WEAR QUALITY SUNGLASSES - Quality sunglasses help highlight changes in terrain and road surface, even in low-visibility conditions.

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