Some 536,000 crashes, 1,836 fatalities and 136,309 injuries occur on snowy and icy roads, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. With some areas of the country experiencing the coldest weather in decades, now is a good time to remind your drivers how to avoid or correct a slide on icy roads.
To avoid a slide, drivers should take the four following steps:
Awareness of Weather Conditions
When the temperature is near or below freezing coupled with any precipitation, you are likely to encounter ice on the roads. Also, drivers should keep in mind that most crashes due to slides occur when there is only very light snow and ice on the roads. This is because motorists are caught off guard and are driving at too high a speed.
Reduce Your Speed
When anticipating icy roads, it is imperative to reduce your speed to 45mph or less in order to avoid slides. The most serious and fatal crashes due to slides happen at highway speeds.
Anticipate Icy Spots
One of the most common places icy slides occur is on bridges and overpasses. This is because the surface of a bridge is more exposed to the air than a road surface and it tends to cool and freeze much faster.
If you do hit a patch of ice and slide, it's important to know how to correct the slide. Both understeer and oversteer can happen on icy roads, but it's oversteer that is the most common cause of crashes at high speeds. Oversteer is when the rear wheels lose grip with the road and the backend of the vehicle slides outward in the opposite direction of the steering input.
To correct an oversteer slide, drivers should take the following steps:
Don't Use the Brakes
One of the most common mistakes drivers make is hitting the brakes. But do not so as braking can trigger and/or make a slide worse and turn it into a total spin out.
Turn Into the Slide
Turn the front wheels in the same direction that the rear of the vehicle is sliding. For example, if the back of the car slides to the right, turn the wheel to the right. As the car straightens out, straighten the steering wheel. The amount you'll need to turn the wheel is proportional to how far and how fast the back of your car is sliding. A small slide only requires a slight steering motion.
Don't Panic or Overcorrect
Overcorrecting a slide will send the vehicle rotating faster than the steering can counter and the car will spin out.