How To Drive In Icy Weather – Elf Knows It [ARCHIVED]
Driving in icy/snowy weather can always be dangerous, especially when you have to do it at night. Here’s some tips to make it a safer Winter on the roads.
Driving in Snow and Ice
The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a
chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your
If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), 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.
Driving safely on icy roads
- 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.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don’t use 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 bridges.
- 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.
If your rear wheels skid…
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
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
- 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
- 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
If your front wheels skid…
- 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
If you get stuck…
- 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 traction.
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.
- MORE TIPS
Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of
Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services