Practicing safe snow driving - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Practicing safe snow driving

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- With the first snowstorm of the season comes slick streets. We found one way to practice hitting the pavement without risking a crash in your own car.

Snowy weather is right around the corner. It's the time of year when seemingly-innocent streets can turn treacherous.

"What they think is nice, dry, maybe wet roads can turn into a hazard in a moment's notice," said Northcentral Technical College driving simulator instructor Ken Heis.

NTC teachers started using a simulator about a year and a half ago as a training tool for emergency workers. Now, it's a safe spot for anyone to practice, especially young drivers.

"If they have that 'oops' or they have that moment of inattention, they will be able to correct it and move on," said Heis.

Last year's first big snow came roaring through on Thanksgiving weekend. The Wisconsin State Patrol reported more than 20 crashes within an hour of the first snowflake. With their state-of-the-art equipment, NTC instructors can make it feel just like the real thing.

"We can make it night. We can make it rain. We can have a student driving down the road and from the instructor work station, have them experience what it's like to hit black ice," said Heis.

Young drivers aren't the only ones in need of an extra lesson. Experts said even the most experienced drivers can get a little too comfortable behind the wheel.

"They have this mindset, I've been driving for so long, I've never had an accident. Therefore, I have nothing to worry about," said Heis. "But it's that moment of complacency where they think everything is good that the problems can occur."

The experts' advice? Slow down, be careful and most of all -- just use common sense, so you stay safe while you drive from point A to point B.

"Don't ever assume that it's just going to be another day on the road because at a moment's notice, something can happen," said Heis.

Classes are open to all drivers. To find out how you can sign up, you can click on this link.

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