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Why You Should Learn to Drive in Winter

By Mark Richardson

“Winter is the best time to learn to drive because you’re learning in some of the worst driving conditions,” says Ron Wilson of AMA Driver Education.

“Braking and accelerating are much more difficult on snowy or icy roads. You need more space; your following distance will be different in winter compared to in summer months. Visibility isn’t always as good, and traction won’t be as good either.”

Added to these challenges are various complications that are outside of motorists’ control. For example, lane markings and other signage are often obscured by snow, making highway driving in particular more hazardous for unprepared or inexperienced drivers.

How to prepare your vehicle for winter, plus more of our top winter driving tips

But Wilson says: Bring it on. “We’ll take you out on icy roads and show you how to stop and start. We teach smooth braking and steering all the time, obviously, but it’s a little different when you’re coming to an intersection that’s covered in ice.”

If you learned to drive in the summer, Wilson suggests taking a wintertime follow-up lesson. AMA offers in-car and online winter lessons for both new motorists and long-time licensed drivers. An expert AMA instructor can teach the correct cold-weather techniques, including smooth driving on ice and skid control—before you need to use them. Keep in mind that winter is the off-season for driver education, so students will have more options for scheduling their ideal lesson times.

Now it’s also possible to learn winter driving in warmer months with AMA’s new Roadbot driving simulator. It’s set up like a conventional car but uses computer screens for the view out the windows. “We can start you on a clear road,” Wilson says, “and all of a sudden we can make it snow and then kick up wind gusts.”

Save up to $200 on an AMA auto insurance policy when you complete one of AMA’s driver education programs