Tips for driving on ice this winter (Pt. 2)

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When the road is wet, the film of the water on the asphalt causes tires to lose traction. Less obvious is the fact that rain reduces driver perception — it's harder to see through the rain — and also decreases visibility through its action on headlights, windshields and the road itself. While most people know to slow down in the rain, there are definitely other tips that will help keep you, and those who share the road with you, from becoming a statistic.

Loss of traction on the freeway can be deadly during winter. (Photo Credit: CC BY/woodleywonderworks/Flickr)

Driving on ice isn’t easy. In spite of modern driving technology, Mother Nature will inevitably humble and beat you if you don’t drive carefully during cold months. CLICK HERE if you missed the beginning of this article.

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Driving on ice – How the state tries to help

States that experience snowy and icy weather conditions during winter must invest millions of taxpayer dollars each year in plowing, sanding, salting and cleaning streets and highways. These municipal efforts help to clean some of the most treacherous ice from roads, but they aren’t perfect and they’re extremely expensive. Considering that salt prices have skyrocketed by 20 percent or more in recent years, many cities have minimized their road salting efforts in the interests of the budget. Thus, curves and bridges may receive attention, but key straightaways are disastrously neglected in the name of saving money.

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Driving on ice – Slowing down

Regardless of driving conditions, excessive speed can be deadly. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, $40 billion or more in crash-related expenses are paid by the U.S. government, and tens of thousands of people die each year in crashes resulting from loss of traction on black ice and similar roadway conditions. The faster you attempt to drive during winter, the more likely you are to not only receive a moving violation from law enforcement, but to die in the center of a pretzel of twisted metal, glass, fiberglass and plastic. That doesn’t even take into account the collateral damage resulting from the ways of unsafe drivers. If you aren’t slowing your average speed by as much as 40 percent of the posted limit during a heavy snowstorm, you’re a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road. You need time to react to cars braking in front of you, and your car needs more time to stop when roads are covered with ice and snow.

Driving on ice – How to use the brakes

Applying the brakes while driving on ice is a tricky proposition, don’t mistake that fact. If it isn’t done properly, the car can go into a spin. With ABS brakes, steady pressure is required. Once the ABS assist mechanism engages to help, a pulsing movement can be felt in the brake pedal. That means the system is working as it should, engaging and disengaging as required by the situation. Don’t take your foot off the brake until the car is fully under control. If your car doesn’t have ABS, pump the brakes in order to avoid a skid. If the skid does occur, gently steer into it until the tires regain traction. Don’t brake again until control is re-established.

When you’re on an icy winter road, try to keep your car in lower gears, particularly when traveling uphill. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive, as this relinquishes some control of the vehicle.

CLICK HERE for the conclusion of this article.


How Stuff Works

Salt Institute

The Weather Channel

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