Winter

Skid control courses – worth it in winter

INFORMATION
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Dicing with icy roads? A skid control course can help you through the dangers of winter. Source: iStock

There's a good reason why winter sports are so popular in Switzerland – sliding over icy surfaces is a lot of fun. But if you’ve already experienced what it’s like when your vehicle skids on a sheet of ice, you know that it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs. So why not learn the theory and practice in the safety of a skid recovery course so you know how to stay in control? comparis.ch has prepared a guide to skid control courses as well as a list of course providers.

Tip 1: Why should I take a skid control course?

Even if you observe all the advice relating to icy roads, make sure your car is winter-ready and adopt a cautious driving style, you can still be in for a nasty surprise when out and about in icy conditions. The vehicle starts to skid, the back end slides to one side and you are no longer in control of your own car. Many drivers just start to panic in this situation, especially if they don't know how their vehicle will respond in difficult conditions or – even less likely – understand how to regain control. 

Enter the skid control course. These courses are primarily designed to build awareness of the various risks that drivers may encounter. They aim to highlight common mistakes, teach new drivers defensive driving techniques and encourage them to adopt a more cautious driving style.

After the theoretical part of the course, the focus shifts to practical examples, very much according to the principle of “learning by doing”. After all, the biggest learning experience is achieved when the course participant is actually in the car for the exercise. Working with typical real-life examples, drivers are encouraged to reflect independently on their own driving style. This way, drivers become more familiar with their vehicle and learn to gauge its limits more accurately.

The skid control course has been a component of the two-phase training course for new drivers across Switzerland since 2005. This training course is mandatory for drivers with provisional licences and is often referred to as “WAB” in the German-speaking part. While the overall training model has been subject to heavy criticism, the skid control course is always considered the best part. 

Tip 2: Which course is the best?

There are plenty of courses on the market. You should let yourself be guided by your own needs. Is the course designed specifically to teach safe driving in winter and deal with those hazardous conditions, or does it merely follow the requirements of mandatory two-phase driver training?

If you're looking for the former, there are different versions of the skid control course to choose from. So you might want to pick one specializing in the specific risk of skidding on snow and ice. 

Examples of providers offering dedicated winter skid control courses include:

TCS Basic Course: Snow and Ice

(site in German, French and Italian only)

NOTE: This does not count towards mandatory two-phase driver training. It can be taken in Zernez, Bourg-St-Pierre or St. Stephan.

Snowdrive: BMW snow driving training (with special discount for new drivers)

(site in German only)

NOTE: This does not count towards mandatory two-phase driver training and is specifically for BMW drivers. It takes place directly at Mount Säntis.

 

If you intend to take a skid control course to complete your mandatory two-phase driver training, you should note that not all courses count towards it. Find out about the conditions of the course before you book. Compare different courses, including those offered by Road Traffic Offices as well as third-party providers. 

 

For a list of locations offering the first phase of mandatory driver training (or WAB 1), visit the TCS website (available in German, French and Italian only):

www.tcs.ch

Some insurance companies also support driver training: They offer their own “safe driving” courses or will pay towards the cost of one. So don’t forget to check what extras are included when choosing your car insurance.