Do you know how to drive on ice and snow? Southwest Washington has several days every winter when temperatures and precipitation collude to make roads dangerously slick. The best way to deal with slippery roads is to stay off them. If that isn’t an option, here’s what you need to know when you encounter ice or snow.
1. Slow Down
Changes in speed and direction take longer when roads are slippery. Reduce your speed whether you’re driving on city streets or highways. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. You can reduce the chance of skidding if you apply the gas slowly to speed up and gradually reduce speed when approaching a stop.
2. Give Yourself Space
Safe driving distances between vehicles more than double when roads are slippery. On dry pavement, following the car in front of you by three to four seconds is adequate. On snowy roads, you’ll need to allow eight to ten seconds of following distance.
3. Avoid Sudden Stops
Threshold braking is the safest way to brake on slippery roads. This is true whether or not you have anti-lock brakes. Keep your heel on the floor while the ball of your food applies firm, constant pressure to the pedal until reaching the threshold of braking.
4. Keep Rolling
Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you slow well ahead of a stop sign, you may be able to roll through instead of stopping. Traffic conditions will dictate whether you need to stop. Once through the stop, gently accelerate.
5. Avoid Hills
Stay off hills when possible. The extra gas you need to get up a hill may cause your wheels to spin. Once your car comes to a stop on a hill, it can be difficult to get going. If you make it safely to the top of a hill, you’re then faced with the prospect of going down hill. When driving down hill, go slowly and brake cautiously. Allow extra room between you and the car in front of you.
6. Steer Out of a Skid
Steer in the direction you want to go if your car starts sliding. Don’t use the brakes. Keep looking and turning in the direction you want to go until the car regains traction. At speeds faster than 25 mph, smooth, skillful steering is a better way to avoid a crash than applying brakes. Skids start when brakes are applied suddenly or acceleration or cornering is too fast.
Keeping your car well maintained helps you navigate winter hazards. We’ll rotate your tires, service your brakes and help keep your windshield clear. Call us to learn more about all our maintenance services: (360) 666-1533.