Driving in icy conditions can be a stressful experience. Obviously, the best choice is to just avoid it all together… unfortunately there are times we have no other option.
How Do You Know A Road Is Icy?
We’ve all been there: you’re driving along and suddenly it feels like your tires are not gripping the road anymore. If you did not see an ice patch, it can come as quite a surprise if you’re unprepared. The truth is, you can’t see every patch of ice on the road, and it’s safe to assume that ice can form even when the temperature is just above the freezing mark. You need to assume that ice may be a possibility, slow down, and try to maintain control when you encounter slippery conditions.
Signs You May Be Sliding
A sensation that your vehicle is “gliding” over the road or an inability to steer your vehicle means you have lost traction. Once a slide starts, it may move your car in an unexpected direction if you try to steer or brake – so it’s best to avoid jerking the steering wheel or touching the brake pedal.
How To Control The Car When You Are In A Slide
When you are in a slide, shift your vehicle to neutral or push in the clutch. This will help to slow the vehicle down without braking. Look and steer where you want the front of the vehicle to go.
In a rear-wheel drive, it’s important to keep your foot off the brake pedal and to try not to jerk on the steering wheel in a panic. Otherwise, your car could end up facing the wrong direction or entering an oncoming lane. If you are driving a front-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle, look and steer where you want the front of the vehicle to go and stay a little on the throttle. That forward pull can help stabilize and pull you out of a slide or skid.
On short patches of black ice when driving straight, try to maintain a straight steering wheel, and when you feel that you’ve passed the icy patch and your traction is returning, shift back into Drive or release the clutch pedal. When you start accelerating again, do it very slowly and gently until you reach the speed you want to go.
You Can Just Pull Over
If it’s too icy and you’re driving on a busy street, you can pull over until traffic passes. The only catch is that you MUST be sure to do it safely. Be careful braking to leave the road in low visibility as someone could come up behind you and rear-end your vehicle. Park your car completely off the road in a safe place, preferably in a parking lot or pullout. NEVER stop your vehicle in a roadway.
Get Training From A Pro!
If you’re in the position mentioned above and feel afraid to drive in icy conditions, you probably need some help from a professional driving instructor. Our instructors will help you become a more confident driver by providing you with valuable practice and tips for driving in winter conditions. Click here for more information on our winter driving courses.