How To Steer A Car On Ice

A few tips on how to steer a vehicle during icy and snowy conditions, including braking issues and sliding on ice.

Thousands of car wrecks - big and small - take place everyday across the world, even in the most ideal road conditions. Weather conditions can increase this number by much more. When roads become ice or snow-covered, driving is not only tricky, it's hazardous.

Some people think that they can manage a car just fine during any weather condition, until they're actually out in it. What looks to be clear roads can suddenly turn in to a solid patch of ice at a shady part of the road. When a car hits ice, it tends to have a mind of its own, sliding off the side of the road, or towards oncoming traffic. Knowing how to steer a car when it begins sliding can save your life and that of the other passengers traveling nearby.

Ice is sneaky. You're traveling along one minute, doing just fine, when suddenly the car starts to slide to one side. The first thing to know is not to panic, but equally important is to not stomp the brakes. Hitting the brakes will cause the car to continue on its path - off the side of the road. Instead, tap the brakes, let off, tap again, and repeat until the car begins to slow. At the same time, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. If you're sliding to the right of the road, turn the steering wheel sharply to the right. The car will straighten up and you can then take control once again.



Although it's actually an unnatural instinct to turn the car in the direction that seemingly takes you off the side of the road, when you turn the steering wheel in the same direction that you're sliding, it's like realigning the wheels. Rehearse in your mind while you're driving in icy conditions how you'll steer the wheel should you begin to slide, or you'll likely have the most natural reaction which is to jerk the steering wheel in the opposite direction. This will almost ensure that you'll continue to slide in the wrong direction. Also rehearse tapping the breaks with intervals, rather than stomping them during a slide.

When coming to a stop then taking off again, like at a stop sign, it's easy to slide right into oncoming traffic if you can't get stopped in time because of ice. Allow plenty of time to stop by tapping the brakes well in advance of the actual stop. It's better to approach the stop sign slowly than to slide into traffic.

When taking off from a complete stop, while on ice, try turning the steering wheel slightly as you press the accelerator. This helps sometimes. Spinning in one spot because you're stuck on the ice won't get you going and will only do damage to your tires and possibly to the car itself. If you absolutely can't go forward, check your rearview mirror, back up slightly, then put it in drive quickly and proceed.

Have your tires inspected at least once a year to insure that you are operating with safe equipment and pay special attention to areas that are known for ice, like bridges and shady spots. Drive slowly during icy and snowy weather, even if you don't see ice on the road.

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