Recently, I returned from a two-day training session at Bridgestone's Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Having grown up in the Midwest and driven through many winters, I thought I knew pretty much all I needed to know in terms of safe winter driving habits. Like anything else, there's always more to learn! Using several purpose-built tracks that have a variety of elevation changes and turns, the expert instructors put me through a variety of exercises in both front-wheel (using Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 tires) and all-wheel-drive vehicles (using Blizzak DM-V1 winter tires).
The Blizzak WS70 features Bridgestone's most aggressive Tube Multicell compound to offer the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles the best ice traction. This fourth generation of Bridgestone WinterBiter tire is designed to deliver wintertime traction and control that inspires driver confidence. They were installed on the school's fleet of Lexus ES 350 sedans and proved to make the most of the car's front-wheel-drive system and lighter weight.
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 tires use a Multicell Z compound that features microscopic bubbles and tubes to absorb the thin film of water that forms as tires run over packed snow and ice. Designed for pickups, crossovers and sport utility vehicles, the tire focuses on ice traction and braking, as well as wet road handling and hydroplaning resistance to provide winter tire driving competence. Installed on a Lexus GX 460, the Blizzak DM-V1 provided a real solid feel in cornering despite the vehicle's high center of gravity.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
The intent was not only to highlight the enhanced traction that winter / snow tires provide, but also show us some basic, and often overlooked tools to make us better drivers in winter conditions. Of the multitude of exercises we performed, the key lesson I took away from the school was to always pay constant attention to availability of grip and modify your driving to utilize what grip you have to maximize braking and modulate speed. Too much of either can spell disaster when the grip disappears.
For more information on the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, read "Winter Driving Tips."