By Alex Gallacher
Due to provincial guidelines in place during the fifth wave of the pandemic, Ian Law’s Skid School has been forced to delay its upcoming Minden dates into early February. The school, which normally starts in January, has managed to run a few classes before the gathering restrictions, but the bulk of the course will be run post-restrictions.
The school is run by former CASC race driver Ian Law and his brother, and aims to teach everyone far and wide some integral winter driver skills not covered in the standard government issued driver exams.
“My background is competition driving,” Law said. “When I started doing auto slalom I wanted to see the sport grow so I would approach lots of guys and tell them they should try it. These guys who would come out would often get their doors blown off by drivers in lesser cars who had more control. I started an auto slalom school back in the late 80s and helped these new drivers learn some techniques, and many of these guys were telling me they were using these car control tricks on the road in their everyday life. So after that we developed the car control school based on that and we added in an ice driving course as well.”
Given Canada is a relatively cold country, it came as a shock to Law when he found out most government employees didn’t know how to properly drive in icy conditions. It also shocked him to know that young drivers weren’t being taught these essential skills, given the harsh northern winters that Canada sees – it was a no-brainer to add in a course solely based on ice driving.
However, one of the biggest hurdles of his course is that some think they don’t need to take it. Some drivers on the road believe that everyone else is the problem and their driving is “perfectly fine,” and that other drivers should take the course – not them. Nine times out of 10, once a driver does complete the course they realize how much skill they have lacked and how their driving has now improved.
“When we tell people about what we do, the reaction is almost always that they’re good drivers and it’s everyone else who needs that,” Law continued “Advertising doesn’t work due to the attitude of the drivers, but we do get a lot of parents signing their teenagers up for it. I often will invite the parents to join the course, but they will always say they don’t need it since they have been driving for 20 years. So usually some people who are willing to admit they don’t know it all, complete the course and realize how much they didn’t know.”
Law wasn’t really happy with how the Ministry of Transportation had administered their driving tests, and he set out to change that. Since the MTO doesn’t teach these skills in their driver courses most drivers aren’t aware that they need to learn better car control. What is a little ironic, is that Law’s biggest clients are corporate groups often sent by the government itself.
He has trained people from Health Canada, to the police, those who work for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and most ironically the MTO itself. These employees are often sent by the health and safety departments of these places, which means they are very receptive to the teachings.
“We talk about the human being a lot because the human being wasn’t designed to move this fast,” Law said. “Our brains and eyes weren’t originally evolved to handle speeds to over 50 or 100 km/h and helping people understand their vision is important. What we do with our eyes is very important while driving and most people are designed to look low. We are also designed to look at threats, and that’s important because people steer with their eyes. So we try to break it up between in-class and in-car in order to make it more digestible, and I think it helps people understand better.”
With the winter seasons only getting harsher, the more people that take the course the better, for Law. He wants all drivers to be safe on the road no matter what, and by filling the gaps in the available training, he has found a lot of joy and pride in it. The skid school will be back at the Minden Fairgrounds on February 5, and the final date of the season will be March 5 pending any public health measure changes.
For more information visit carcontrolschool.com.