'I tried to stop one time and I can't': Calgary newcomers get lesson in winter driving

Newcomers in Calgary have been learning about winter driving on city roads ahead of their first season of snow and ice.

For many, it will be the first time they've even seen snow. One participant in the most recent workshop had only been in the country for five days.

Next is learning how to drive on it.

The workshop, hosted by the Centre for Newcomers, is designed to be a winter driving 101 for immigrants and refugees.

"Lots of people don't know what black ice is, what a chinook is, what winter tires are. These things we think everyone's going to be aware of, but they're not," said Mohammad Awada with the Centre for Newcomers.

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Awada says many are anxious about leaving the house in the snow but also need to get a driver's licence to move around the city and province.

"It's the first time for me here in the winter, so I don't know anything about the winter and the snow," said Musayba Madi.

"It was great to know some steps for an emergency. It was a great session."

Madi says she has avoided the snow so far, but the workshop has given her confidence and more knowledge.

"The snow is new for me, and when you drive it's dangerous to drive in snow. I tried to stop one time and I can't," said Khadijah Bellal.

"It's really important for me to learn about how to drive in winter."

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"I'm new here. We don't have snow in the Philippines," said Joyce Platon.

"I learned a lot," she said, talking about the two-hour classroom session for a dozen-or-so newcomers.

"We want the newcomers to feel like true Albertans," said Awada.

He says that includes learning how to dress for winter driving as well as learning about ice and what to do when things go wrong out on the roads or if you're involved in an accident.

Awada hopes to deliver the workshop to more groups of newcomers in the future.

Awada has the following tips for newcomers getting behind the wheel during their first winter in Calgary:

  • Be prepared for the conditions
  • Dress appropriately
  • Have tools ready on longer drives
  • Take it slow
  • Keep your distance from other vehicles 
  • If you don't feel comfortable, take transit instead of driving