Driving Tips for Dangerous Road Conditions
Skidding. Spinning. Sliding. Terrifying for you, but for Alex Deborgorski, the nerves-of-steel veteran on Ice Road Truckers it’s a typical day at work. The pro driver gives tips on staying in control while navigating winter roads.
Does that apply if you have all-wheel drive?
Yes. Don’t get cocky just because you have a little extra traction. If you hit a slippery patch, it’s just as hard to stop as if you had two-wheel drive.
What about when it’s raining?
Slow down by at least 10 miles per hour. At certain speeds, your car may hydroplane—lift off the ground so you’re driving on a layer of water. Don’t panic. Gently take your foot off the gas until the car slows down and feels normal again. And if you’ve hit a big puddle, tap the brakes immediately afterward. This creates heat and friction, which helps dry the brakes.
What if there’s a big curve coming up and you’re scared of sliding?
Gradually start turning the steering wheel and feathering the brakes lightly before the curve. Then coast through it with your foot off the brake and off the gas, so as not to gain speed. When you have your foot on the brake, the wheels stop turning. That’s when the car loses control and goes in any direction that momentum decides to take it, sort of like a toboggan.
We always hear that we should turn into a skid, but how do we do that when our impulses tell us not to?
You have to make a conscious effort to override the fear. I talk myself through the motions in my head: “Relax. Turn into the skid.” Remember that the most important thing is to keep the wheels turning so you can control the direction of the car. Rather than braking to slow down, take your foot off the gas. Say you’re sliding to the left. Gently turn the steering wheel to the left. This cancels out the skid. The car corrects itself and goes straight. If all else fails and you have the option to do so safely, leave the road and drive the car into a snow bank.