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If you must drive in ice and snow, go slow, stay in control

Posted February 18, 2021 6:03 a.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2021 12:39 p.m. EST

— When snow or ice are on Triangle roads, it can be a challenge to drive.

And many drivers in central North Carolina forget how to maneuver since they don't have to drive very often in frozen precipitation.

Experts say there are things that drivers should remember to do when roads have glazed over with ice because normal driving functions – braking, accelerating, turning – will take longer to execute.

Motorists should remember to slow down and leave about twice the distance that would normally occur between you and the vehicle in front of you. That gives motorists more time to react, if needed.

Drivers should also remember to be deliberate, and avoid quick turns and quick stops. Drivers can pretend there's a hot cup of coffee on the dash that shouldn't be spilled.

Four-wheel drive doesn't make cars invincible.

The feature can help get a car going in the snow, but it has no added benefit when stopping.

That's where anti-lock brakes come in.

Vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes will help the car come to a halt sooner while still allowing the driver to steer.

You'll know they're working when they start to pulse. Keep firm pressure on the pedal.

If a vehicle does start sliding, experts have tips for the best way to regain control:

"What most of us are likely to experience, because most of us drive front-wheel drive cars, is a condition called understeer, where you're turning but the car keeps going straight," said Jen Stockburger, an auto expert for Consumer Reports. "So, if you come into the corner too fast, you come in (and) you turn (but) the car just keeps going straight. You may have to slightly unwind in order to get your traction back. Stay off the brakes. Stay off the throttle."

Over steer happens when a vehicle turns more than the driver intends," Stockburger said. "If that happens, turn the wheel in the same direction the rear of the car is sliding. Again, turning more that you want? Turn the wheel in the same direction the rear of the car is sliding. And no jerky motions to the throttle or brake until you regain control."

Drivers should also remember to clear snow and ice from their vehicle before moving because flying frozen precipitation can put other motorists at risk.