The NMU Police Department on Wednesday offered its first "Winter Driving Experience" to NMU students in a parking lot with snow-covered ice behind the Superior Dome. Students were able to drive an older, out-of-service patrol vehicle through a cone-filled course. An officer riding shotgun gave tips on how to avoid or effectively confront the most common causes of winter accidents. Another session is scheduled from 3-6 p.m. today (Feb. 22). The hands-on experience complements educational programs that the department presents in the residence halls on winter driving and vehicle maintenance.
Ken Love and Jon Kovar of the NMU Police Department were on site for the session. It included a serpentine section, where students weaved the car—slalom style—through a series of cones at a controlled speed.
“We also have them brake and steer in front of a large cone to simulate trying to take a corner or avoid an obstruction with the tires locked up when ABS engages,” said Kovar. “When the tires are turned, you can’t steer well at all, so the second time they let off the brake. We also have a simulated skid so they can practice regaining control.”
Kovar said it’s best to steer into the skid. That means if the back of the car is sliding out to the left, drivers should look and steer left as well.
Love said the inaugural “Winter Driving Experience” was coordinated in short order and the recent warmer weather made the course less hazardous than desired. He said if it’s offered again, the NMU Police Department will be able to prepare further in advance and wet down the lot to ensure an icy base that will really “drive home” the key tips on safe vehicle operation during the winter.