A high percentage of traffic accidents occurs in winter. Less daylight and bad weather do not make it easy for the drivers at all. Of all those enemies, ice is perhaps the most dangerous. It’s not that fog, wind, rain, or snow are all turkey… but ice has that surprise component that isn’t found in the rest of the meteorological elements.
When driving with ice on the road, an adage applies: rest. There are a number of techniques, which we outline below, that can help you. But it’s better not to have to use them
Tips for Driving on Ice
- Suitable speed:: If you are approaching an area where there is or may be ice, reduce your speed before reaching it. Once in it you should try not to move the steering wheel (or in a very subtle way, without abruptness).
- Don’t brake hard: One of the most common reactions when you feel the tires lose traction is to press the brake pedal hard. It’s useless, all you’ll achieve is to lose more control. It is more convenient to press the pedal gently and repeatedly to slow down, without losing control of the vehicle.
- Smooth gears: On ice the tires do not “grab” like on asphalt. They take longer to get to that surface, so accelerating quickly makes it easier to lose control of the car. To gain traction, it is ideal to accelerate smoothly. If you don’t get it, slow down and go back to speed even more moderately.
- Sensitive steering movements: If your car is skidding, there is no point in following the steps that occur with over or understeer…because there is no traction on ice. What you should try is to fix it, something you can only achieve by taking your foot off the accelerator. When you regain traction, thanks to ESP (Electronic Stability Control), the car automatically restores the trajectory you indicate with the steering wheel. The same thing happens with aquaplaning: you have to let the car slide until the tire has traction.
- Long marches: With these ratios, without exceeding 2,500 rpm, the torque is delivered to the wheels more subtly, it is better to use them than the short ones, which prefer the wheels to turn faster and increase the chances of slipping.
Prevention for Driving on Ice
Driving on ice is the opposite of rushing. Before you travel, check the weather and road conditions. Don’t get behind the wheel if you don’t have to.
If you do have to take the car, it is advisable to leave early so as not to create unnecessarily risky situations (such as overtaking at a vulnerable spot). Also that you know where to find ice caps, to pay extra attention to:
- Humid and shady areas, especially in mountain areas.
- On bridges and viaducts (and below).
- Tunnel entrances and exits.
- With bumps and depressions.
- In ditches without a verge (vegetation helps condensation of moisture).
As you know, when the temperature reaches 0 degrees, ice forms, but the thermometer must be above 4 degrees to turn it back into water. Don’t be wary, even if you don’t think it’s freezing. Not even when you see the sun and it looks like the road is in perfect condition. During the last hours of the night and until dawn, are the coldest hours of the day…if there is any humidity, be careful. Avoid driving at night, the more visibility you have in winter the better.
Also be careful when there is snow. It is common for people to on wheels of other vehicles, where the snow compacts and turns into ice.
In addition, in these meteorological conditions, it is vital increase the safety distance. The distance a vehicle travels from the moment the driver steps on the brake until the car stops increases dramatically. With more space between vehicles, there’s more room to maneuver without the risk of a collision if you or the vehicle in front of you skids on the ice.
Car Ready for Driving on Ice
As you understand, a well-stocked car is vital in these situations:
- Ties: Below 7 degrees, conventional tires lose their performance. There are alternatives, such as having winter tires, which are designed to ensure more grip on difficult surfaces. If two sets are not possible, take a look at the All Season tires, with compounds and tread pattern whose performance does not decrease as the temperature rises.
- Busy: The tire pressure drops when it is cold. Therefore, if they are not inflated correctly, they may take longer to react than usual, something dangerous if you have to drive on ice. Check the pressure more often.
- Chains: It is not mandatory to use snow chains... but if there is ice there may also be a white blanket and it can be useful to take it with you in the car during these months. And without forgetting cardigans, triangles… in case something unforeseen happens.
- Scraper: Of course you can’t drive with ice on the moons. We’ve already explained how to remove ice and snow from the car… as well as the ways to avoid it.
- Full fuel tank: Something we always recommend in winter, so as not to run out of heating in case of problems. Don’t forget the mobile phone and charger, something to drink and eat … as well as clothes and shoes suitable for the cold, in case you have to leave the vehicle.
- Overall rating: In addition to these more specific details, check the battery status, fluid level, brakes, windshield wipers and lights…. Everything helps to have no problems.