Tag Archive | "snow"

Glide Don’t Slide


Modern cars are festooned with safety features and, for the most part, they are a very good thing. In winter conditions, many drivers have ceased to be aware of the benefits of ABS for example, so ubiquitous has it become. Thanks to this great invention the days of wheels locking up under braking are in the past. The problem is that motorists have either forgotten the golden rules of driving that existed before the days of the current safety technology available on new cars, or have become complacent for the same reason.

On roads that are covered with snow, ice or heavy rain skidding is still a problem. It sounds so obvious to say that more care needs to be taken in these adverse conditions and yet there are still accidents. The reality is that a car will still be quite capable of skidding and crashing if it is driven badly or carelessly.

Everyone has witnessed individuals driving too quickly in bad weather. Just drive on any motorway in these conditions and be amazed by the stupidity of some. A car will only skid if it is being driven badly or aggressively. So the advice still applies: if in doubt slow right down.

Driving on snow and ice requires an extra set of rules. Multiply the stopping/braking distance by a factor of ten. When moving off from rest, use a higher gear to stop the wheels spinning out and then steer and brake very gently. Reduce speed when approaching a bend to avoid braking late into the corner. Imagine the smooth flowing actions of an ice skater – sudden moves mean disaster.

As darkness falls and especially when the sky is clear, watch out for ice forming on parked cars – it‘s a clue. Despite its name you can’t actually see black ice. If your car has an outside temperature gauge, don’t ignore it. If it indicates anywhere near freezing then it probably will be.

On snow and ice tyres become quieter and, crucially, steering will feel lighter. This is a noticeable effect which could signal an impending slide and the trick is to remove the foot from the accelerator, which will allow the car to slow without braking.

It takes a fair amount of self control to avoid panicking when a skid does occur. It is important to try to remain calm whilst you remove your feet from the pedals and steer gently in the direction of the skid until you feel the wheels find some grip. Remember, ABS, ESP or any other device known by its initials are certainly life savers but they are no substitutes for good driving! Here endeth the lesson.

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