6 Road Safety Tips for Driving on Icy Roads

As Canadians, we are more than prepared to drive throughout the winter. We are not deterred from the roads by a little ice or snow.

Driving in snow or on ice is something most Canadian drivers will face at some point in their driving careers, and knowing how to react quickly and correctly could mean the difference between a few scary seconds and a potential crash.

What many don’t know is the importance of treating the roads using liquid deicers. These can save lives and are much more effective than salt alone. Here are some great tips on how you can stay safe on the roads throughout the cold Candian winter.

1. Know how to spot black ice

People always talk about black ice as though it is a mysterious spectre that cannot be avoided. Black ice is just like regular ice in that it forms on the surface of pavement after freezing rain or the re-freezing of snow or rain. It often occurs when the air temperature is warmer than the road temperature. Due to the process that causes it to form so quickly, there are no bubbles in the ice. This makes it transparent and very difficult to see. You will need to be extra vigilant when the temperature drops below 0 degrees.

2. How to drive on black ice

You need to slow down when driving in dangerous conditions. The winter is no different. It’s a good idea to slow down in colder temperatures just in case you hit an icy patch. Ice will impact your stopping distance and vehicle handling, so practicing driving in slippery conditions like an empty, snow or ice-covered parking lot can help prepare you. Another thing to bear in mind is that you should avoid sharp steering motions. Keeping the movements of your steering wheel softer will allow your tires a greater chance of keeping their grip.

3. Only drive on roads that have been treated

Sometimes you will not have this luxury, but if you think that a road has not been treated with a liquid de-icer or salt. Then you should look for some other options to get around. This is especially important on work sites. If you are looking to move heavy loads then you need to be confident that the surface you’re driving on will give you the traction that you need. The application of a liquid de-icer can provide you with the long term protection you need.

4. How to prevent skidding

If you do hit a patch of black ice when driving, it’s important to stay calm and think back to what you’ve learned. Skid control tips include reacting as little as possible and keeping the vehicle headed straight as you pass over the slippery spot. Steer straight, take your foot off the gas, and do not hit the brakes. This may all seem counter-intuitive, but by preparing yourself mentally, you will be able to avoid reacting poorly.

5. Stay calm

If you start to feel the back end of your car sliding out, remember to look where you want to go and not where you’re afraid of going. Gently give your steering wheel a slight turn in the same direction that your back end is headed. Struggling against that movement can send you spinning out of control. If you skid or spin, once again remain calm. A little braking might be necessary if you’re skidding a lot.

6. Trust your ABS

If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), put your foot on the brake and apply even pressure – the ABS will pump the brakes for you. You’ll feel a pulsing under the brake pedal, which is the ABS engaging and disengaging your car’s brakes.

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