Driving through Snow and Ice
deal...winter weather is dangerous and the best advice you can ever get is
simply don't drive in it. If your out on the roads and an unexpected storm
blows in, then it's worth it to find a hotel and hunker down for the night
(don't take unnecessary chances). Try not to leave your house until the
snow plows and salt trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow tons of
extra time to reach your destination. And most importantly...don't drive
like a NASCAR driver on the ice!
It never hurts to pack some emergency
supplies if you absolutely have to drive in these conditions. Throw an
extra blanket, road flairs, extra clothing, fire starting kit, and a flashlight
into your car.
If you must drive
in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared and that you know how to
handle road conditions.
It's helpful to
practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're
familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips
specific to your vehicle.
on icy roads
- If your car likes
to skid in the ice (or if your not sure because you've never tried it
before) then toss some sandbags in your trunk. The extra weight will
dramatically increase your car's performance in these conditions.
- Decrease your
speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least
three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Apply the brakes
gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the
- Turn on your
lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights
and windshield clean.
- Use lower gears to
keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don't use your
cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially
careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will
freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are
wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like
- Don't pass snow
plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're
likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
- Don't assume your
vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive
vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
- Keep your eyes on
the road at all times. Avoid unnecessary phone calls, fidgeting with
the radio, or looking at maps.
If your rear
- Don't Stomp
on your brakes!
- Take your foot off
- Steer in the
direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding
left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
- If your rear
wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel
toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get
your vehicle completely under control.
- If you have
standard brakes, pump them gently.
- If you have
anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the
brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is scary but it really is
If your front
- Don't stomp on
- Take your foot off
the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
- As the wheels skid
sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does,
steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive"
or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If you get
- Do not spin your
wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
- Turn your wheels
from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
- Use a light touch
on the gas, to ease your car out.
- Use a shovel to
clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
- Pour sand, kitty
litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get
- Try rocking the
vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission
on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time
you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of
Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services, Weather.com
The bottom line is when you start to skid...SLOW
DOWN and DON'T HIT YOUR BRAKES!
You can explore other travel options to avoid winter driving.