Winter Driving Techniques Part 3 – Steering In Bad Weather

Snowy or icy surfaces make steering difficult and require smooth, careful, precise movements of the steering wheel. Skidding in which the front or rear moves laterally is caused by hard acceleration or braking, speeds too fast for conditions, and quick jerky movements of the steering wheel.

You may need to take evasive action to avoid a collision. Steering is preferred to braking at speeds above 25 mph because less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of control.

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Emergency steering methods:

1. The push-pull-slide method of steering is performed by shuffling your hands so that neither hand crosses over the imaginary line between 12 and 6 o’clock. Since the arms never cross, you are able to provide continuous adjustments in either direction.

2. The fixed-hand steering method allows rapid 180-degree steering to either direction, but it has one
shortcoming. This method is confining in that your arms may get locked together as you attempt to steer past 180 degrees, leaving you in an awkward position to make further fine adjustments.

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Winter Driving Techniques Part 2 – Following In Bad Weather

Normal following distances for dry pavement (three to four seconds) should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

On a four-lane highway, stay in the lane that has been cleared most recently. Avoid changing lanes because of potential control loss when driving over built-up snow between lanes.

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Remember: traction is greatest just before the wheels spin. Gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting is the best method for retaining traction and voiding skids — especially if your vehicle is not equipped with traction-assist technology. If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.  Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, sand) surface.

Once underway, keep going. When approaching a hill, observe how other vehicles are reacting and keep far enough behind the vehicle immediately ahead so that you will not have to slow down or stop. This will allow you to maneuver around any stuck vehicles and to increase your speed (within reason) at or near the bottom of the hill to give you the extra momentum to carry you over the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.

Minimize brake use on very slippery, icy hills; if further speed reduction is needed, gentle, slow brake application (squeeze braking) is recommended to avoid loss of control.

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