What to do When Your Car Starts to Slide on Ice
Sliding is inevitable sometimes. Here's what you should do when it happens, and tips on how to avoid it.
With the presence of black ice and seemingly never-ending flurries, winter is a recipe for slipping and sliding – and not just on sidewalks. Seasoned drivers accustomed to winter driving know that sliding on icy roads is sometimes inevitable. It happens to the best of us, even when we’re being our safest. So, what can you do when you start sliding to reduce the risk of a collision, and get back on course safely?
Step one: don’t panic.
What should you do when your car slides?
What you’ll need to do to correct your slide depends on which wheels are slipping.
If it’s your front wheels, remove your foot from the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down. If you continue to slide, press on the brakes gently to help bring your car to a stop.
If it’s your back wheels, slowly turn your wheel in the direction of the slide while removing your foot from the accelerator.
What shouldn’t you do when your car slides?
Just as important as what you should do when you begin to slide, is what you shouldn’t do.
First and foremost, don’t slam on your brakes. It might be your first instinct since you want your vehicle to stop – but this won’t work on icy roads. The harder you brake, the more likely you are to make your slide even worse. If you need to brake, do it as gently as possible.
The same logic applies to turning your steering wheel. You never want to turn abruptly during a slide; it’ll cause you to overcorrect, and likely send your car spinning out of control. Just like braking, do it slowly and deliberately when you need to.
What should you avoid to prevent sliding?
By the time winter rolls around each year, most drivers are out of practice when it comes to winter driving. As a result, the first snowstorm of the year leads to an unusually high number of collisions – just consider the 400 collisions the city of Toronto saw during one of the first major snowfalls of the 2019 season.
Of course, the hazardous roads make it more difficult to drive safely in the winter months, but what else contributes to this drastic increase in collisions?
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Here are some of the most common situations that cause cars to slide:
Driving too fast
Driving too fast on icy roads is not the same thing as speeding in good weather conditions. Even if you drive at your usual speed, particularly on the highway, you increase your chance of spinning out of control. You’ll also find that it’s harder to brake. If the temperature is below freezing and it’s snowing, your best bet is to slow down and take your time.
Braking too quickly can lead to slipping and sliding. Brake gently by easing your foot down on the pedal. Be sure to keep enough room between yourself and the driver in front of you, so you’ve got a generous stopping distance.
If your wheels spin faster, your chance of losing traction increases. If you need to speed up for any reason, remember to ease into it.
Stay safe this winter
The key to safe winter driving is taking preventative measures to mitigate any risks on the road. If you can avoid driving, stay home. And if you have to drive, be mindful. By adjusting your speed according to the weather conditions and giving yourself extra room behind vehicles, you can keep your wheels firmly on the road.