What’s the Best Way to Handle Skidding on Ice?
- Hit the Brakes
- Go with the Skid
- Turn Away from the Skid
- Hit the Gas
Answer: Go with the Skid
Even the most experienced drivers sometimes make common mistakes when it comes to ice on the roads. In part, this is because they simply don’t know the facts about tires and ice.Then there are the instincts that kick in, and since humans aren’t born knowing how to drive, these instincts can lead drivers astray.
Driving on Black Ice
Black ice is not any different from other ice, except that it’s harder to see. The worst thing you can do when you find yourself driving on a patch of black ice is to try to get off of it. Instead, just let off the gas and keep steering straight ahead. Remember to breathe once your wheels are back on asphalt.
Dangers of Crossing Bridges
Bridges are the most dangerous places to drive when it’s icy out, and not just because of the steep drop off the side. Bridges are made of different materials than the road and freeze faster than other areas. The first parts of them to freeze are the areas where the pieces of the bridge connect. So, when your car hits that little dip and swerves a bit, it’s because that portion of the bridge is already frozen.
Controlling the Skid
When you hit a patch of ice and realize that you aren’t really the one controlling the car anymore, it’s easy to panic and jerk the wheel. In fact, many people turn the wheel in a direction they don’t even want to go in just to get out of the skid. The problem is that you’ll just keep skidding and worse, when you do come out, you’ll be going in the wrong direction.
Gently aim the wheel in the direction you want to go, but don’t jerk it. Try letting off the gas, and if you are driving a front wheel drive vehicle, the next step is to give it a bit of gas. Rear wheel drive vehicles have the push tire in the back, where there isn’t a lot of weight. Front wheel drive vehicles have the push tire on the front axle, with the weight of the motor to give it some grip. By letting off the gas and then giving it some, you aren’t propelling the car into the skid. Instead, you’re letting gravity do its thing right before you give it some added go-power. This is usually referred to as “going with the skid”, which is a bit misleading.
The best advice is to just stay off the roads when they’re icy, but that isn’t always possible. If you find yourself out and about and the temperature drops, just slow down and don’t panic. And remember, 4WD is great, but it doesn’t help on ice. 4WD only has two push tires, both of which slide on ice just like one push tire does.