Always drive to conditions—and if possible, use winter tires. But if you find yourself in a slippery situation, try these strategies from Wayne McLachlan, AMA’s chief driving instructor.
CONQUER SNOWY HILLS
Going uphill? Using a lower gear, start accelerating at the base to build enough momentum to get to the top. Downhill, also use a lower gear—rather than brakes—to slow down. When you do brake, press gently to maintain a slow, steady pace.
HANDLE BLACK ICE
Black ice occurs at or below zero degrees. It’s caused by moisture freezing on the road surface. Drivers often can’t see it, but if asphalt looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, be cautious and reduce your speed without braking.
RECOVER FROM A SKID
If front tires lose traction, don’t steer into the skid! Take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want to go. If back tires lose grip, slamming the brakes or jerking the wheel can make you fishtail. Instead, look and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
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NAVIGATE A WHITEOUT
Slow down, use low beams, and turn on front and rear defrosters. Whiteouts typically pass quickly, but you may want to pull over at a safe location, away from traffic. If you continue driving, keep headlights on but avoid high beams—they reflect more light off snowflakes, further reducing visibility. Drive slowly and watch your speed: If you can’t see other vehicles or landmarks, it’s tough to gauge how fast you’re going. If road markings are covered, rely on signs as guides.
LEARN WITH AMA
Brush up on cold-weather skills with one of AMA’s winter driving classes. Learn more and sign up here!