Dave Deslauriers /

How to Drive in Snow and Ice

Winter may provide some picturesque scenery, but for those of us behind the wheel, it can cause a plethora of headaches. In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips to help you safely navigate those treacherous winter conditions and get to your destination safely.

Slow Down

This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s so important that is warrants reminding. “Driving slowly is the key to maintaining control on snowy or icy roads. All maneuvers – accelerating, stopping, and turning – take longer and are less predictable when the pavement is covered with snow and ice than they are on wet or dry pavement.

Posted speed limits are largely irrelevant when there’s snow on the ground. In most states, you can be cited for far lower than the posted speed limit if you are violating the “basic rule” – don’t exceed the speed necessary to travel safely in challenging winter conditions.

Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways do. The bottom line: Give yourself enough time to go slow.” (John Vincent & Jaclyn Trop – US News & World)

Drive Super Smoothly

While slamming on the accelerator and doing donuts may look like fun on TV, it’s a sure fire way to get yourself into trouble when driving in slick conditions. “The key to safe driving in snow is being smooth with the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes. Why? Jerky movements with the controls easily unstick tires that have a tenuous grip on the slippery road, so every turn of the wheel, push of the brakes, and movement of the throttle must be deliberate, gentle, and gradual. Pretend there’s a cup of scalding coffee in your lap and drive so as not to spill it.” (Gary Witzenburg – Car and Driver)

Turn into a Slide

Losing control of your vehicle is one of the scariest experiences that can happen to a driver. However, knowing how to properly correct yourself will give you a major boost in confidence when driving in bad weather. “If you’re fishtailing or sliding, it usually means you are going too fast. Reduce your speed so you won’t need to worry about this! Most high-speed slides are difficult to correct successfully. If you’re caught off guard and begin sliding, turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. If this happens (called over-correcting), you’ll need to turn in the opposite direction.” (Dan Robinson – Ice Road Safety)

Consider a Winter Driving Safety Course

One of the best ways to become proficient at driving in snow and ice is to practice. However, rather than using public roads and highways to get your training in, there are places that offer hands-on winter driving safety courses in a controlled environment. These programs help drivers of all skill levels improve their abilities and know-how, and can be potentially lifesaving training. Do a search for courses offered in your local area for more details.


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