Best intensive winter driving courses: improve your skills on snow and ice

Your car may be capable of driving in the snow and ice this winter but are you? We round up five UK courses that’ll test your skills

The winter months are now here, so expect rain, snow and ice. Last year the UK was battered by storms for days, leading to accidents and road closures as drivers lost control of their cars. 

As we saw in our all-season tyre test, a set of tyres to suit the season is one of the best investments. But, because winter brings unique driving challenges, it’s important that you ensure your skills are up to the task, too. This is where bespoke driving courses will teach you how to drive safely in poor conditions.

• Best winter tyres on sale

We’ve listed five winter driving courses you can do here in the UK to prepare yourself for the cold snap.

Drivers Domain UK Winter Driving Course

Price: £350 Duration: 3.5 hoursLocation: Anywhere in the UK

Company car drivers make up a large part of the driving population in the UK, and any responsible fleet manager is going to consider advanced training for staff. The Winter Driving course from Drivers Domain UK is specifically aimed at these drivers, and lasts for 3.5 hours.

The course is split into three parts. Parts one and two show drivers how to prepare their vehicle for winter driving – which areas need regular maintenance and checks, and the necessary items to carry with you in your car at all times. The behind-the-wheel training takes place on public roads, and teaches drivers how to adapt their driving style to more challenging conditions.

Mercedes-Benz World Winter Driving

Price: £140Duration: 1hr session Location: Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands, Surrey

The Mercedes-Benz World facility in Surrey offers a host of courses, ranging from sessions for beginners to high-performance tuition. The winter driving course is great for those looking to learn how to cope with low-grip surfaces in a safe, controlled environment.

It takes place at the test circuit, and drivers will have access to a number of Mercedes and Smart models, although they will all be manual cars. Tuition is provided by Mercedes-Benz World driving instructors, all of whom carry out their teaching from the passenger seat. Driving takes place on the handling circuit and the wet skid circle, where car control will be taught.

Goodwood Spin & Slide

Price: £99Duration: Over an hourLocation: Goodwood, Chichester, W Sussex

Home to the iconic Festival of Speed, Goodwood’s estate also works as a driver training centre. For a lesson in car control, motorists can take part in the facility’s Spin & Slide training course that’s run throughout the year.

The session consists of a briefing, a demonstration and around 50 minutes of driving time in a high-performance BMW 140i on a low-friction track that will help drivers master controlling a slide and recovering a spin. Tuition is provided by Goodwood’s driving instructors on a one-to-one basis.

IAMRoadSmart Advanced Driver Course

Price: £149Duration: Approx. 2hrsLocation: Near you

The Advanced Driver Course from road safety charity IAMRoadSmart isn’t just aimed at enhancing winter driving skills, but helping motorists improve behind the wheel throughout the year. Each session of the course lasts a few hours and is done in your own car with an expert instructor.

You’ll go over everything, from advanced car control to observation and road positioning, as you become a more complete driver, better able to deal with poor conditions. The course is the first step in obtaining your advanced driving licence from IAMRoadSmart – which will help you save on insurance and be a safer driver.

Skid Control training

Price: £120Duration: 2hrsLocation: North Weald Airfield, Essex

Car control, or the lack of it, can be the difference between a narrow escape and a crash in the harsh winter conditions. The best and safest way to practise controlling a sliding car is on a track with the help of instructors.

TrackDays organises skid control courses just off the M11 in Essex, where drivers are taught how to deal with oversteer and understeer, including recovering from a spin. The £120 session lasts for two hours and includes theory lessons from the instructors. All driving is done with TrackDays’ vehicles that have been specially modified for the course.

Keep going in the snow

While cold, wet weather causes problems, most drivers’ fear being stranded by snow. The answer is to fit winter tyres, or an all-season set. But, if you’re on a budget, our tests have shown socks like those from AutoSock offer winter tyre-like grip on snow for around £65. They’re easy to fit, but soon wear and can’t be used on tarmac. 

Chains like those from Maggi are more durable. These give close to 70 per cent of a winter tyre’s grip on snow and cost around the same as socks, but are harder to fit.

The final option is a spray. In our tests, Winter Tyre Grip gave similar traction to chains for under £10, although the effect wears off.

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