So. Lake teens learn how to drive on ice

It was a lesson in ice driving, but other subjects included physics, weather and psychology for the 20 or so South Tahoe High School students on a portion of icy-slick tarmac at the South Tahoe Airport on Wednesday.

Under the guidance of California Highway Patrol officers, students spun, jerked, screeched, halted, skidded, and slid in two cars belonging to the driver's education program.

"I don't even have my permit. It's just teenagers going crazy on ice," said junior Mike Rivas.

When fishtailing, the drivers were instructed to hit the gas and turn the wheel in the direction of the car's swerving rear end. Hitting the brakes, said CHP officer Jeff Gartner, won't help control the vehicle.

"You have to fight that instinct to hit the brake," Gartner said.

Other ice-driving lessons focused on avoiding the urge to speed, to provide plenty of space between vehicles, turning head on into a snow bank and to focus on a focal point when directing the vehicle.

Chains help slow a vehicle, while four-wheel drive helps maintain control a vehicle. On the course, the car without front-wheel drive spun wildly.

Gartner was surprised there were no screamers in the group. Naturally though, there was kidding.

"I almost hit the cop car," said freshman Kendra Nelson.

"And the snowbank and the cone," joked sophomore Jonathan Agnew.

Despite the mishaps, the advice was practical and the students, when behind the wheel, took the exercise seriously.

"I wish every kid in the Basin could do this," said Jack Stafford, assistant principal of South Tahoe High School.

Students said they would remember the ice-driving tips when they have their license to drive.

"I hope so because if you don't remember it you're screwed," Rivas said.

Driving on ice


Limit speed

Provide plenty of space between the car in front of you

If car is sliding uncontrollably, steer in direction the end of car is sliding

If antilock brakes engage keep foot on brakes


Exceed safe speeds for conditions

Accelerate into or out of corners

Slam on the brakes when fishtailing

Source: CHP


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