Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

It was a clear but cold morning – the kind that makes many wonder why we live in this climate. Yet the driving conditions were good and the roads were dry. I'm at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition grounds for a session in Michelin's Winter Driving Academy. The one-hour lesson is intended to prepare drivers for the worst winter conditions (there's an online version on YouTube). We're talking slippery streets, sudden stops and the occasional moose. To mimic these perils, Michelin has constructed a skid pad that will imitate a stretch of treacherous icy road.

I think I'm ready for winter's challenges but as I settle in behind the wheel of my front-wheel drive sedan (one fitted with Michelin X-Ice Winter Tires), my confidence wanes. I'm seated next to Carl Nadeau, 41, a professional driver and a celebrity on the French-Canadian automotive scene.

"You need to be aware of road conditions and you need to be ready," he says. I decide to keep a mental list of the top three lessons learned, a mental antidote to complacency. "Because when something does go wrong," he continues, "and you're not ready, you're spinning out on the road and the cars are coming in behind you. It's not good."

Story continues below advertisement

Lesson One

Nadeau describes "spinning out on the road and the cars are coming" as "not good." Nadeau is prone to understatement.

My first test is a straight stop on dry road. It goes fine – the ABS does its thing. Then it's time to hit the ice. I accelerate to 25 km/h, brake and skid. Nadeau reminds me to steer in the opposite direction of the spin. Point the wheels where you want to go. I manage the move and even get a compliment from Nadeau, but the speed at which the car loses its traction is unnerving. Imagination is a powerful thing.

We're doing this under controlled conditions but out there, on the road, with your family in the car …

There's a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Lesson Two

I need to take every winter driving course I can. Is it really possible that I spend more time on Twitter than I do on my driving? I'm pathetic.

Story continues below advertisement

The next series of tests recreate an emergency brake-and-avoid situation. A moose darts on the road and you must brake and turn to avoid it. Human nature is to stare at the object in front of you, which means when you turn, you're likely to turn into, rather than away from, the object. Nadeau reminds me to keep the eyes focused out front and to brake then turn, rather than blending the two. It works.

I feel a little bit like Scrooge but instead of being visited by the "Ghost of Christmas Past" I'm being visited by the "Ghost of Accidents Yet To Come." I want to drop to my knees clutching the Michelin tire gauge I've been given and swear to mend my ways, asking, "Answer me one question. Are these Michelin winter driving tests the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?"

Lesson Three

No matter how long you've been driving, no matter how good you think you are, it's never too late to become a better driver. If you can't be there in person you can do this from your computer by visiting michelinwintercenter.com.

Like us on Facebook

Add us to your circles

Story continues below advertisement

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies