Friday, December 14, 2012

Icy Road Conditions in Winter

As temperatures plummet in the winter months, the roads become more treacherous, with darker days and longer nights just the tip of the iceberg (if you'll pardon the icy reference). There's also the low visibility caused by heavy rains and snow – plus the most dangerous conditions of all: icy roads and the hard to see 'black ice'. When some or even all of these conditions combine, then it can be all too easy to lose traction on the slippery road surface and have an accident. Here are a few driving tips to help cope with the winter roads and to help you avoid injury – or at the very least, a road accident claim:

General driving on icy roads

The most basic thing to remember when driving in wintry conditions is to drive more slowly than usual and apply your brakes more gently. Make sure your visibility is maximized with frequent use of the windscreen wipers and screen defroster. Be careful about deploying brakes in general – on icy roads they can often do more harm than good.

When making turns, changing lanes or stopping give other drivers more warning than usual with brake lights and indicators and keep your distance, as icy roads mean significantly longer stopping distances. If a skid does occur, turn your wheels into the direction of the skid to regain control.
Another point to bear in mind is that ice remains slippery even when it is melting. Driving more slowly allows your tires to push more water through their treads, thus increasing traction.

Recovering from traction loss

There's nothing quite like the gut-wrenching feeling of skidding while driving, and icy road conditions make skidding an ever-present danger. Fortunately, how to recover from a loss of tire traction is relatively straightforward and – providing you were not driving too fast or recklessly at the time – usually works, with the overall aim being to maintain the path to your original destination. To do this, you have to fight the natural urge to focus on objects you're trying to avoid, such as barriers, trees or people, relying on the direction of travel to do this for you.

Just immediately take your feet of both the gas and brake pedals, and keep your eyes on the safe area you wish your vehicle to travel to, before turning smoothly in that direction.
Do not slam on the brakes, as this simply locks your wheels and removes all directional control from them.

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