3 Tips For Better Driving In Icy Conditions
February 08, 2017
There is no shortage of jokes about the way that Seattle drivers panic when the first snowflake falls—but there’s also no shortage of reasons why driving in snow and ice in the Puget Sound is legitimately dangerous. Hills, narrow roads, and vehicles that aren’t built for slippery conditions can make it pretty nerve-wracking to drive on cold winter days.
Additionally, if you’re a Seattle native, you likely just aren’t that familiar with the basics of driving on slick streets, which could lead to poor decisions behind the wheel. If you find yourself driving on an icy day, remember these three tips for improved control:
Don’t brake going into a turn.
It’s a natural inclination to slow down as you begin a turn, but in icy conditions, that may cause your car to slide unpredictably. In fact, slamming on the breaks is one of the easiest ways to end up in a ditch.
Instead, drive slower than you normally would and prepare well ahead of time by slowing down gently as you approach a turn. Then, take the turn at a decreased but steady speed. Ease up on the gas if you think you’re coming into the turn too quickly, but avoid hitting the brakes. Then accelerate out of the turn to get yourself back on your way.
Increase your stopping distance. A lot.
In snowy or icy conditions, coming to a complete stop is extremely difficult; even if your wheels have stopped turning, the momentum of your car may still cause you to move without your control. And getting moving again from a complete stop is much more difficult than speeding up if you’ve rolled to a very slow speed.
Instead of braking or attempting to stop at a traffic light, decrease your gas substantially and cruise to a halt. Ideally, though, it’s a good idea not to stop completely at all.
Lean into a slide.
If you do find yourself sliding out, don’t slam on the breaks and don’t try to over-correct. Even though the loss of control can be extremely frightening, braking abruptly or attempting to reverse the slide will do nothing to stop the momentum.
If it’s possible, it’s actually a good idea to drive into the slide, which will allow your car to right itself and find a bit of road that’s more manageable. AAA explains that “applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.”
If you’re at all nervous, it’s a good idea to stay off the roads. Snowy days in Seattle are few and far between, which means almost anything you need to get done can wait. It’s better to stick it out at home than end up in costly wreck and may even wind up hurting someone.
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