You don't have to live in a wintery climate to encounter icy roads and hazardous roadways. In temperatures at or just above 32-degrees, a thin layer of water can turn to or cover ice, causing extremely dangerous, slippery driving conditions.
1. KNOW YOUR VEHICLE
Not all cars respond the same to icy, slippery roads. For that reason, knowing how to handle your vehicle and how it responds in various weather conditions is important. AAA recommends that motorists practice slow-speed maneuvers on an empty snow or ice covered parking lot. You should also page through your owner's manual, familiarizing yourself with your vehicle's braking system and tire traction.
2. DISTANCE FACTOR
The most important thing to remember when driving on slick roads is that you must travel, steer and brake more slowly than usual. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as that you would need to brake under normal driving circumstances. This means you should keep at least a three car distance from the vehicle directly in front of you.
3. BLACK ICE
Black ice is defined as ice that remains on roadways that are not subjected to direct sunlight. Black ice commonly forms on roads that wind around lakes and rivers, in tunnels, on overpasses and in highly shaded, rural areas. Black ice is almost invisible to the naked eye. Be especially leery when driving your car into shaded areas, and slow your vehicle down during your approach.
4. SOME AREAS ARE EXTRA SLIPPERY
Certain areas of roadways, because of location or lack of direct sunlight, are almost always more hazardous than others. Use extra caution when driving on bridges, overpasses and tunnels.
5. FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Front wheel drive vehicles handle better than rear wheel drive on slippery roads because the weight of the engine is on the drive wheels, which helps to improve your traction.
6. REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Because there is virtually no weight on the rear wheels of your car, vehicles that operate by using rear wheel drive tend to slide from side to side during turns on icy roads. Cars and light duty truck owners can place bags of sand or kitty litter in the bed of the truck or trunk to help balance the weight, and distribute it equally.
7. KNOW YOUR BRAKES
Your owner's manual will provide information about your braking system. Not all braking systems are the same. Find out which type of brakes your vehicle uses and then, follow the safety steps below.
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) offer significant advantages on slick roads, if used correctly. To operate ABS effectively, motorists should apply steady pressure to the brake pedal during the entire stop. ABS will automatically pump the brakes, if necessary, to keep the wheels from locking. Never manually pump ABS brakes yourself. Apply only steady pressure continuously until you come to a complete stop.
If you don't have ABS, you should gently apply pumping pressure to your brakes during slippery conditions. Do not apply steady pressure to your brakes. Standing on your brakes will only cause wheel lock, and may result in your car spinning out of control.
8. HANDLING SKIDS
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE: The biggest problem facing most winter drivers is skidding on slick, icy or snow covered roads. It is possible to steer out of a skid! Once you feel your car begin to skid, slowly remove your foot from the accelerator, until you feel your wheels regain traction control. (Do not attempt to brake!) As your vehicle's tires grab the road, slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want your front wheels to go.
REAR WHEEL DRIVE: When you begin to spin, remove your foot from the gas pedal. Slowly steer in the direction you want the car to go. If you are still skidding out of control, counter-steer until your vehicle is pointing in the right direction. Never apply steady pressure to the brakes.
9. MORE TIPS
You can improve your VISIBILITY by clearing all snow and ice from your vehicle. Be sure to remove ice and snow from hood, roof, trunk, turn signal lights, tail and headlights, windows, mirrors and fenders.
Use your LOW BEAMS when driving in an ice or snow storm. You'll have better visibility.
Allow for greater STOPPING DISTANCE during snow and ice storms. In order to bring your car to a safe stop, you must allow 8-10 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Remember that POSTED SPEED LIMITS are only to be followed during ideal weather conditions. Slow down while driving on snow or ice.
When driving UPHILL on ice, pick a path that will allow the most traction. Monitor vehicles in front of you and steer clear of areas where they spin wheels or slide backward. Unpacked snow will give most vehicles sufficient uphill traction.
To maintain control on CURVES and TURNS, reduce speed just before the turn. Any sudden acceleration or deceleration during a turn will send you into a skid.
NEVER brake while driving on ice. If you are approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will only throw you into a skid.
Maintain your TIRES. Tires that are in proper working condition and are adequately inflated provide better traction.
Travel GENTLY. Everything you do on icy roads will affect how your vehicle handles the situation. Move slowly. Turn slowly. Brake slowly. Sudden changes can cause your car to spin out of control.
10. EMERGENCY WEATHER KIT
Having a well stocked emergency kit in your car can help to save your life and make you more comfortable during breakdowns, accidents and long waits. Your kit should include:
Battery jumper cables
First aid kit
Basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife)
Extra clothing (hats, socks, boots, mittens)
Bag of sand
Cellular phone or CB Radio
Driving Tips provided by RoadRagers.com