Six tips for driving on icy roads

cars on icy streetRecently we shared general winter driving advice. Now, with many Northwest roads snow-free but icy, we offer these specific tips. The overarching theme: do everything slowly and gently.

Studs grip ice, even if they're hard on pavement. It's true that studded tires take their toll on Northwest roads, and in lowlands west of the Cascades they're not often warranted. But if you drive where roads are frequently icy all winter, like east of the mountains, studs improve traction and safety. Snow tires won't grip ice, but studded tires do.

Throw a bag of cat litter in your trunk. It won't help much in snow, but if you get stuck on ice, spread cat litter under your tires and in your path to gain traction.

Point your wheels in the direction of a skid. What's that mean? If you start to spin out, let off the gas, don't brake, and gently turn your front wheels in the direction you want to go. Eventually you should stop fishtailing and regain control.

Never brake and turn at the same time. Brake gently only while traveling straight ahead, well before you turn. Get off the brakes before you start turning. Try to coast through the turn, or apply very gentle throttle pressure.

Think twice before tackling a hill. What if you have to stop, then can't move forward again? Or what if you lose momentum before cresting the top and start to slide backward? You'll probably bang into other cars, unless you can slide against a curb to stop your descent.

icy road Fill up your gas tank. If you slide off the road or get stuck behind a pileup, you'll want plenty of gas – not just to drive, but to run your car's heater!

The best advice of all is, unless you truly must drive, stay home.

For a longer list of winter driving tips, here's what AAA advises.


Debbie

01/16/2017 07:05 PM

Kitty litter will only help if it's not the scoopable kind, which most of it is now. Scoopable will make it more slippery. Look for clay! But sand is better and makes less of a mess.

mh

01/16/2017 09:54 AM

You got the #1 tip right, but neglected the 2nd - take transit if that's an option. I have not fired up my car since this started. Biked one day when the roads were clear, and have been on the bus and foot since then. Never gotten stuck using that combination.

Jon Osterberg

01/03/2017 08:41 AM

You're right on target to note the importance of speed. "Slow down" is indeed the first tip, as noted in the initial blog on this topic. This follow-up blog aims to provide specific tips not often found among general winter-driving tips. Yet even with these follow up tips, the overall theme is "do everything slowly and gently." Thank you for stressing that point!

varun

12/30/2016 11:43 AM

How is slow down and increase following distance not mentioned as item #1 on this list!?

Barbara

12/30/2016 10:49 AM

Excellent as always Pemco. Your the Best!

Jon Waldum

12/30/2016 10:34 AM

Thanks for the advice, always good to be proactive.
A recent storm here, just for Christmas, jammed up the freeways during the afternoon commute. ODOT road cams kept me apprised of the road / traffic conditions. These cams were helpful in making a determination not to attempt the roads even though I was prepared with snow tires, chains, kitty litter and a blanket. Sometimes its better to remain safe than put yourself in danger making an attempt.
Thanks again, good advice to be mindful about.

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