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Winter is coming like a freight train. That means it’s time for winter maintenance, snow tires and planning for those snowy holiday drives. For some, that’s a terrifying thought. But if you want to learn to drive in snow like a pro, a rally school is a great place to build some skills.

Not your typical driving school

Car sliding off a snowy road
Car off of a snowy road | Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Unlike a typical driver’s education course, professional rally school is all about understanding car dynamics on the edge of control. Of course, in ideal conditions, you would never approach the limits of grip, and therefore knowing how to save a slide isn’t required reading. But in snowy and icy conditions, nothing is predictable.

That’s where a rally school takes your driving education to the next level. You’ll get closed-course training on loose surfaces like sand, dirt, and in the case of Team O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire, even snow. It’s here where you’ll learn to drive in snow just like the pros do, giving you more confidence when you get back on the road.

How does rally school help learn to drive on snow?

With a rally school, you’ll first go through the basics of simply driving on a loose surface. Understanding brake distances, how to turn to maintain front-end grip, and how to use your hands and feet to carry, save, or even start a slide. If all of that seems irrelevant to driving on the road, think again.

Learning to drive in snow means understanding the grip you have available. And learning in a closed-course environment with a training driver next to you is the best way to develop the feel required to drive safely on snowy roads. Rather than sliding into a guardrail or, worse yet, the back of another vehicle, you’ll have a better feel for road conditions and know when and how to make the appropriate driving adjustments.

What’s more, if your car does start sliding, rally school training can come to your rescue. You’ll have learned skills about throttle, brake, and steering application that you can use to straighten your car out when sliding on snowy surfaces. And this protected environment is a safer place to learn those lessons than on the open road the first time the snow flies.

Are there other ways to learn to drive on snow?

A Mazda Miata driving on snow
Mazda Miata on Snow | MotorBiscuit
Related You Might Want To Avoid These Cars For Snow Driving

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Of course, you can always find an abandoned parking lot and start ripping around on your own. But if you’ve got the scratch, a professional rally school comes with specific instructions to develop the right skills. The guided approach will help build your confidence, without risking your own vehicle. And even at $2,500, it’s less expensive than an insurance deductible and years of higher premiums due to an accident.

Where are winter driving schools located?

There are dozens of winter driving schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. Tire companies like Bridgestone and Michelin and automakers including Toyota and Porsche offer such tuition. And you can also find rally-based schools like Dirtfish and Team O’Neil for more motorsport-inspired instruction. And whoever you choose to learn to drive in snow, you’ll gain valuable skills that will make your winter drives much safer.