4 Tips to Remember When Driving on Icy Roads

Icy Roads
When ice covers the neighborhood pond, it makes skaters happy. But when ice covers the roads and highways, drivers feel quite differently about the slippery substance.

Ice is a major cause of winter accidents because it's not always visible. Also, some drivers feel overconfident about driving on ice due to their car's high-tech safety features.

Overconfident drivers may end up ruing their lack of precaution, however, if treacherous ice causes them to slip, slide, skid and spin wildly out of control. These four tips will help you stay on solid ground even if it's a sheet of solid ice.

Buckle up and put on your defroster

You should wear your seat belt at all times, but especially during icy conditions when accidents occur at a greater rate than normal. Put on your defroster, too. Your defroster helps to keep your car windows from forming ice and melts snow if you're facing the double winter whammy of ice and snow.

You always need to keep your visibility clear but especially in bad weather. Prepare for the unexpected and be on high alert for potential dangers like skidding, slipping or stalled cars blocking the road.

Slow it down

Seems like all drivers should know it’s important to reduce their speed when driving on icy pavement, but some drivers think that snow tires, all-wheel drive (AWD) and electronic stability control (ESC) will eliminate slipping and sliding.

Good tires help to grip the pavement, AWD assists in accelerating and staying mobile, and ESC helps to avoid spinouts, but even improved traction won't keep you safe if you're traveling at speeds too high for icy conditions. By reducing your speed, you give yourself a better chance to stop safely, to stay on the road, and to get where you're going in one piece.

Don't stomp on the brakes

When the roads are icy, you have to drive with greater caution and with slower, gentler actions. Brake softly, and try to avoid sudden hard stops which can initiate a spin that you may not recover from. If you do find yourself skidding:

  • Immediately,  take your foot off the gas pedal or brake
  • Let  the car naturally slow down and gain traction
  • Steer  in the direction you want the car to go
  • As  your traction improves, gently brake or accelerate as needed
  • Avoid  over steering or sudden sharp turns

If you're walking on ice and quickly twist your feet in another direction, most likely you'll fall. That's why people walk cautiously and prudently on icy patches. Same thing goes for your car. Sudden, quick, steering maneuvers can create skidding just like over braking.

Follow the skidding advice above, because it doesn't' matter how or where you're attempting to steer the car's wheels if they have no traction. Only when the tires are gripping the road and actually rolling can turning the steering wheel alter their direction and yours.

Be aware of road conditions

Check social media, TV or the radio to see what meteorologists are saying about the weather. Low temperatures and even a few droplets of precipitation can make ice. Also, keep in mind, black ice may look like an innocent puddle, but if you know it's 31 degrees outside and there's light rain, you should treat the roads like a sheet of ice whether you can see it or not.

 

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