How to Drive on Ice
A high percentage of traffic accidents occur in winter. Fewer daylight hours and adverse weather conditions do not make things easy for drivers at all. Of all those enemies, possibly the most dangerous is ice. It's not that fog, wind, rain or snow are a piece of cake... but ice has that component of surprise that doesn't happen with the rest of the meteorological elements.
When driving with ice on the road there is one maxim: peace of mind. There are a number of techniques, which we break down below, that will help you. But it's better not to have to use them
- suitable speed: If you approach an area where there is or may be ice, reduce your speed before reaching it. Once in it, try not to move the steering wheel (or do it very subtly, without abruptness).
- No hard braking: One of the most common reactions when one feels that the tires lose grip is to press the brake pedal hard. It is useless, the only thing you will achieve is to lose more control. It is more convenient to press lightly and repeatedly on the pedal to reduce speed, without losing control of the vehicle.
- smooth accelerations: On ice, the tires do not “grip” like they do on asphalt. They need more time to get a grip on that surface, so accelerating quickly makes it easier to lose control of the car. To gain traction, the ideal is to accelerate gently. If you can't, slow down and speed up again even more moderately.
- Delicate steering movements: If your car slides, it is useless for you to follow the steps that happen in aoversteer or understeer…because on ice there is no traction. What you have to try is to recover it, something that you will only achieve by taking your foot off the accelerator. When you have traction again, thanks to the ESP (electronic stability control), the car will automatically recover the trajectory that you indicate with the steering wheel. The same thing happens with theaquaplaning: You have to let the car slide until the tire finds a gap of grip.
- long marches: With these ratios, without exceeding 2,500 rpm, the torque is delivered to the wheels more delicately, it is better to use them than the short ones, which encourage the wheels to turn faster and increase the chances of skidding.
Driving on ice is the opposite of rushing. Before embarking on a trip, check the weather and road conditions. Avoid getting behind the wheel if it is not absolutely necessary.
In that case, if you have to take the car, you should leave early so as not to create risky situations unnecessarily (such as overtaking in a delicate place). Also that you know where you can find ice sheets, to pay more attention:
- Wet and shady areas, especially in mountain areas.
- On bridges and overpasses (and under them).
- Tunnel entrances and exits.
- In bumps and depressions.
- In gutters without hard shoulders (vegetation helps moisture condensation).
As you know, ice forms when the temperature reaches 0 degrees, but the thermometer has to exceed 4 degrees for it to turn back into water. Don't let your guard down even if you think it's not freezing. Nor if you see sun and it seems that the road is in perfect condition. During the last hours of the night and until dawn, they are the coldest hours of the day… if there is some 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 follow the tracks of other vehicles , where the snow compacts and turns into ice.
In addition, in these weather conditions it is vital to increase the safety distance . The distance a vehicle travels from when the driver hits the brakes until the car comes to a stop increases dramatically. With more space between vehicles, there is more room to maneuver without risk of collision if you or the vehicle in front of you skids on the ice.
As you can understand, having the car properly shod is vital in these situations:
- tires: Below 7 degrees conventional tires lose performance. There are alternatives, like having somewinter tires, designed in order to guarantee greater adherence on complicated surfaces. If it is not possible to have two games take a look at theall-season tires, with compounds and tread pattern whose performance doesn't drop as the temperature rises.
- Pressure: With thecold tire pressurecomes down. For this reason, 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 frequently.
- Chains: It is not mandatory to use snow chains... but if there is ice, a white blanket may also appear and it may be useful to carry them in the car during these months. And without forgetting vests, triangles... in case something unforeseen happens.
- Scraper: Of course, what you can't do is drive with ice on the windows. We already explainedhow to remove ice and snowof the car.. as well as the ways you should avoid.
- full fuel tank: Something that we always recommend in winter, so as not to run out of heating in case of problems. Don't forget your mobile phone and charger, some food and drink... as well as clothing and footwear suitable for the cold, in case you have to get out of the vehicle.
- General Review: In addition to these more specific details, check the status of the battery, fluid level, brakes, windshield wipers and lights... Everything helps or have problems.