Keep Your Car Under Contol in Snow and Ice

Weather.com offers a number of helpful tips to keep you safe on the road this winter.

We have all thought it. When the first snow falls or the temperatures dip below freezing and the roads get slick, we wonder if everyone around us has forgotten how to drive.

(Alert: Weather Service Says Sunday Ice Storm Could Be Dangerous)

Here are a few tips on how to stay on the roads and avoid collisions when snow and ice start affecting driving conditions. Read the full list of tips by clicking here.


Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

If your rear wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck:

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
Billy Gallagher January 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM
My front wheels were skidding, so I took my eyes off of the road to read your tips and that's when I went into a spin and the supplies that you told me to keep in the car (from an earlier advice column of yours) slid across the floor of my car and caused me great panic and I ended up hitting a tree. Luckily, I had been packing my own lunch over the past several weeks (again as you advised from yet another article) so I can afford my deductible. Thank you!


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