Driving through an Ice Storm 101

Winter driving 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot
The first advice anyone will give you about taking your vehicle through an ice storm is not to do it at all. Stay at home, park the car in the garage and enjoy the transparent icing that covers everything outside.
But since that's not always an option, it pays to know what to expect and what to do under certain circumstances. Ford has created a series of videos that offer tips for various situations so that people can drive more safely out there.

While the clip is branded, it doesn't in any way apply strictly to Ford owners, so given it's almost January, the midst of the winter, it's good if more people hear about these things.

So, assuming you absolutely have to drive somewhere despite the nice weatherman forecasting an ice snow, here's what you should look out for. First, make sure you keep the windows warm so they don't get frozen, affecting your visibility. Switch the heater to defrost and adjust the intensity so that you're comfortable and the wipers can do their job.

The most important thing you need to remember is not to jerk the controls. Whether we're talking about the accelerator, the brake pedal or the steering wheel, nice and easy does it. You should even pay attention to gear changes, in extreme conditions, since that too can make the vehicle lose grip.

Another important safety measure is to slow down (by lifting off the gas, not braking) and maintain a greater distance to the car in front. There is no clear measurement here, but the further away, the better.

Now, assuming you start to slide, the most important thing is not to panic. The second most important one is not to brake. Braking will lock the wheels, which will send the car spinning even faster. What you need to do is take your foot off the gas and steer gently in the same direction as the skid. For instance, if the rear of the car starts drifting to the left (the front of the car moves to the right), you steer to the left. Imagine you're drifting and there's a crowd waiting to go wild, if it helps.

Obviously, the tires on the vehicle are very important. Nothing offers traction on ice, but assuming you only hit a small patch and not an entire skating ring, good tread on your rubber will make sure you regain your desired trajectory faster and safer. Also check they are properly inflated.

Another good idea is to prepare for the worst. That means always refueling as soon as the tank is half-empty, just in case you get stranded and need the gas to stay warm, and even though you used to laugh at those preparing for doomsday, it might not be a bad idea to have an emergency kit on board - water, some canned food, a blanket, a flashlight, and whatever else you think you might need in an emergency. Better to look like a paranoid fool than a frozen smartass.

Stay warm, stay safe, stay in control.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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