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Skid Control Techniques for Icy Roads

Often the result of changing direction or speed on a road that is icy or covered with snow, skids can be scary, and it’s difficult to know the best way to right your vehicle when caught in one.

Find out our best skid control techniques, and learn how to prevent them before they start.

Correcting a rear-wheel skid

When your rear wheels lock or lose traction, follow these steps to regain steering control:

  1. If hard braking has caused the rear wheels to skid, take your foot off the brake pedal. If the rear wheels have lost traction, ease off the gas pedal. Resist the urge to slam on the brakes, and don’t panic
  2. Shift the vehicle into neutral or push in the clutch pedal. Experts agree that during a skid, it’s important to reduce the forward motion of the vehicle to quicken stop time
  3. Look ahead in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go and steer gently in the same direction. As you do so, be aware of how the vehicle is responding to your steering
  4. Once the vehicle is straight, return to a driving gear
  5. Accelerate gently until you reach a safe and conformable driving speed

Correcting a front-wheel skid

When the front wheels lose traction, you loose ability to steer. You may be alarmed, but try not to panic. To regain steering control:

  1. As with rear-wheel skids, the most move is to take your foot off the brake pedal right away if hard braking has caused the front wheels to skid. If the front wheels have lost traction, ease off the gas pedal
  2. Shift to neutral or push in the clutch pedal to slow the vehicle down
  3. Wait for the front wheels to grip the road again
  4. When you feel traction returning, select drive or release the clutc
  5. Accelerate gently until you reach a safe and conformable driving speed

To see these steps presented as a diagram, head over to Transport Canada’s website, which addresses correcting skids and other winter driving tips.

Preventing skids before they happen

To prevent skids and slides, make sure your vehicle is in peak condition before you set out on a winter road and give yourself plenty of extra travel time. Here are some measures you can take to reduce the risk of skids and slides:

  • Check or have your brakes serviced. Any pulling, unusual squealing or grinding or a change in pedal feel may mean it’s time for a repair
  • Check tire pressure, especially before setting off on a long trip that involves highway driving. Properly inflated, high-quality winter tires will give you best traction on winter roads
  • Remove all snow from your vehicle’s hood, roof, windows and lights before you leave to eliminate any excess snow blowing around as you drive
  • Maximize visibility by making sure all your vehicle’s lights are in working order, seek out winter wiper blades, and familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s temperature settings
  • Be extra cautious when you brake, change lanes, make turns and take curves, and increase your following distance behind vehicles
  • Look out for black ice, which is easily mistaken for new asphalt or puddles of water. Look for dark, glossy patches up ahead on the road that appear slightly wet.

Don’t get worried about travelling on slippery winter roads – get prepared and equipped with the right accessories. Find out how installing four winter tires can increase your braking distance by up to 25%, and also help you save on your auto insurance premium.

Skid Control Techniques for Icy Roads

Winter roads in Ontario can be dangerously slick. Even if you’ve invested in winter tires, skids and slides can happen – sometimes when you least expect them.