Out of Control Weather and the People That Learn in it

Drivers Ed courses face dangerous weather conditions.


CC BY-SA 3.0

Poor road conditions frighten new drivers in Driver’s Education classes.

By Calvin Mcfalls

The smell of car exhaust, the cushiony leather and possibly heated seats, and that feeling of control. At least, until a simple right turn turns into a slip and slide, and that feeling of control goes flying, as does everything else. For most, this case is something they are used to, but for the student, instructor, and observer in the car, it seems life-threatening. 

The Drivers Ed course at Huntley High School has had a simple and easy almost-cruise like class this year. Until the ice came, and the roads, driveways, sidewalks, and even the snow on the ground became friction-less. People would fall on the way to door 10 and there would be many injuries due to the ice alone. 

But as for the student drivers, they would be in a lot more trouble than some of the more “experienced” students. 

“If we do get weather during the first semester, typically those kids have had their permits, and have been driving with us since august, so they are a bit more experienced as far as drivers, they obviously haven’t been in the weather. But the kids we have now, most of them have never at all, let alone in the weather.” Chris Maxedon, a Drivers Ed instructor at HHS, said.

In addition, the cars used aren’t anything special.

“We just use traditional, regular cars. We drive 2014 Ford Fusions and a 2016 Ford Taurus. They’re totally fine to use in any type of weather conditions, but we don’t have any special tires, it’s just your basic average midsize car” Cliff Pawlak, another Driver’s Ed instructor said. “We get a lot of maintenance all the time. So [if] they need new tires, we put new ones on so that [the students] have everything ready to go. We get maintenance three, four times a year for oil changes, trie changes, and any other issue.” 

The cars might not be special, but what is special is what they have been through. 

William Benson, a “rookie” Drivers Ed instructor, has had some experiences where the weather has impacted learning. 

“One time we were in a parking lot, and somebody was in our lane and we couldn’t get over to the other side because there was snow on our curb. It was just a bit scarier for the fact that it was opposite directions, but [it wasn’t] the driver’s fault” he said.

So while the snow might not seem like it can impact the drivers, the car, the instructors, and the conditions can all lead to issues. They mainly pick pre-planned routes, but salting the roads, or maybe having winter tires would both help the student and the instructor. But it would take away the “learning” of driving in snow. 

Either way, Drivers Ed is both dangerous, but also careful. Most students have plenty of experience before any driving in knowing what to do, but the instructors can also help them. 

“We can reach over to the steering wheel, and we have our own break if we need to use it, but that rarely happens,” Maxedon said. 

So, If you plan on taking Drivers Ed this semester, or next year, then do not be worried. The class and the instructors are both well-trained, and well-experienced. Although it might seem dangerous, just remember: breathe, concentrate, and stick to the words of the instructor.