TODAY   |  February 05, 2014

Willie takes a driving safety refresher course

TODAY’s Willie Geist took a lesson outside New York City to get some tips on driving safely in this winter weather, including the best way to brake on ice and control a skidding car.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> ridiculous of a winter already. and with much of the country in the midst of the severe weather today, better not to get behind the wheel as we've been telling you about. in fact, nearly 40% of weather-related accidents happen this time of year in the winter.

>> if you've got to drive in these conditions, you want to know how to navigate the slippery roads. our man willie before he left got the low down.

>> yeah. as you guys said, best not to get out there and drive today. but when you do go back out on the roads, they're going to be slippery and icy. before i left for sochi last week, i went to a closed course with a professional instructor to get winter driving safety tips.

>> reporter: a familiar sight this time of year. cars skidding, sliding, and crashing on roads all over the country. i went to the monticello motor club outside new york city for a lesson in winter driving with instructor cory lewis.

>> hey.

>> hey, cory . willie .

>> willie .

>> how are you, man?

>> nice to meet you.

>> nice to meet you. this is our ride for the day?

>> not just yet. just a nice little family fun sedan, get you warmed up.

>> reporter: winter driving class starts before we even get in the car.

>> one of the first major things you want to look at is your tires. make sure there's proper air in them, also, good tread. take a simple penny, stick it in the tread like so. got a brand new fresh tire.

>> the idea if it was worn down enough, you'd put the penny in and see the top of abe lincoln 's head, time for new tires.

>> exactly.

>> my first lesson was in braking correctly on ice.

>> brake actually a little bit sooner than what you would normally intend to. so nice and smooth with the brake. slowly coming to a stop. as you feel the car slow down very efficiently, you don't get any of the a.b.s. kicking in.

>> what does that mean exactly?

>> antilock braking system . you'll hear a little bit of a vibration sound. basically the tires trying not to lock up. there's the a.b.s. kicking in and the tires.

>> then, a familiar feeling.

>> well, we're stuck.

>> seems to be that way, yeah.

>> reporter: how do we get moving again?

>> is there a way out of this other than digging yourself out and having somebody push the car?

>> there are a few different options. first, slowly let off the brakes, slowly apply the throttle. slowly start moving forward and let the traction control take over. and set to roll again.

>> just like you don't want to slam on the brakes on ice, you don't want to slam on the gas.

>> exactly.

>> and sometimes, you just have to get out and push.

>> a little bit of manpower.

>> yeah.

>> sometimes all the technology in the world doesn't help. all right.

>> let's go. keep pushing.

>> reporter: for the next lesson, it was my turn to take the wheel as i learned how to control a skidding car.

>> remember to turn into the slide, don't continue with it. turn into it now.

>> the opposite.

>> the opposite, yes. there you go. turn into the slide. turn into it. there you go.

>> my final challenge of the day, avoiding an accident or a pothole without losing control.

>> okay. so we set up these cones up here and simulate an accident taking place immediately on the road and just to get out of the way of that.

>> there you go. come up to an accident.

>> oh, boy.

>> all right.

>> you got this?

>> yeah. i got it.

>> yeah?

>> yeah.

>> an accident just happened up ahead. smooth input. there you go. we just missed it.

>> all right, cory . i fell like you've taught me well. i think i'm ready for the porsche.

>> i think so.

>> really?

>> let's go. come on.

>> yeah. yeah. yeah!

>> we're good. we're good. whoo-hoo!

>> bottom line, guys, cory and the gang at monticello motor club says don't panic, be smooth with it. if you're going to stop, do it slowly. jamming on the brakes or gas either way is the most dangerous things you can do.

>> good stuff. i learned a lot. got to go into it not out of the slide.