A Driving Instructor's Blog

Note: This post is from JANUARY 2010. There are more up to date posts concerning the heavy snow and ice from December 2010 onwards. There are also posts from 2011 and 2012 – and any other year it’s cold and we get snow.

I’ve had a few hits from people asking why their driving lesson was cancelled due to snow (one of them today from Scotland). Not lessons with me, you understand, but lessons with their own instructor wherever they may be located.

Your instructor should have explained this to you, but when the roads are icy you WILL skid. Even a simple stop will result in a slight slip, and this is worse on slopes. In fact, on some slopes (and in some conditions) it will be impossible to stop no matter how slowly you drive. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Ice Skating Fiesta post. This is a situation you can easily get into without even trying.

Now, someone who is a reasonably experienced driver will be able to handle a bit of ice – and this includes some learners who are well into their training. But for beginners, and especially those who are prone to jerky steering or harsh braking, driving in such conditions becomes potentially hazardous. And when conditions are particularly bad, the experienced and smart driver knows it is safer not to go out at all (and that Fiesta driver was obviously not especially smart).

Your instructor will make a decision based on his or her assessment of the conditions and the level of skill you have attained. It isn’t a slight on you or your driving ability: its just commonsense.

Believe me: no instructor wants to cancel lessons just for the sake of it.

I suppose I’d better also add that an instructor cancelling lessons because of a foot of snow is not the same as the pupil cancelling it because they went out last night or just don’t feel like a lesson today.

And remember that the test centre will cancel a test for a whole lot less reason than a driving instructor will cancel a lesson.

Common questions (and this is added for 2012’s first snowfall at the start of February, due to the large number of search terms on the topic):

Will my driving lessons be cancelled due to snow?

It depends on how much snow there is, how far advanced you are with your training, and your instructor’s attitude to teaching in snow. There is no rule that says you mustn’t have lessons in snow. In fact, it makes sense to do them so you can get valuable experience. But beginners shouldn’t do it, because it’s just too dangerous.

Also remember that what YOU see as being “advanced”, your instructor might not agree with. It’s his or her decision.

Will my driving test be cancelled due to snow?

Quite possibly. And with the amount we’ve had around here (2012), plus the low temperatures, almost certainly. You need to phone up the test centre on the day using the number on your appointment email confirmation and check. Otherwise, you MUST turn up – even if they cancel it at the last minute. If you don’t, you’ll lose your test fee.

Please try to understand this: if there is snow on the road, and/or if the roads are icy, then the chances of your driving test being cancelled are very high. It doesn’t matter how many Google searches you do to find the answer you like best, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s 1912, 2012, or any other date. It also doesn’t matter what other people say…

The only thing that matters is what the test centre says. PHONE THE LOCAL TEST CENTRE AND ASK THEM ON THE DAY OF YOUR TEST.

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