Safe Winter Driving: Slow Down, Stay Off Brakes, Don't Oversteer in Skid

If you've been behind the wheel much the past few days, chances are good you've seen some fender benders or worse.

The officers who respond to these winter traffic accidents will tell you they may involve different types of vehicles, drivers of differing ages and experience, but most have common causes.

"Panicking trying to maintain control of the vehicle, slamming on the brakes," says Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez.

As it turns out panic, quick moves to the brakes or the steering wheel are not your friends.

That's easy to say, but when you're behind the wheel and your car is suddenly skidding on an icy roadway your first instinct is probably going to be to slam on the brakes.

"What it's going to do is you're going to lose control of that vehicle," says Lopez.

Or you'll want to crank on the steering wheel. Wrong again.

"Oversteering is the worst thing you can do when you're in a slide on ice," says Lopez. "Best thing is, let your foot off the gas pedal a little bit and try to maintain control of the steering wheel with short, small moves."

Veterans of winter driving have practiced this time and again. Hard to do when you're encountering it for the first time and will maybe only see these conditions a few times a year.

All the more reason to give yourself time to anticipate and react.

"Slow down, be ready to take extra time when you're going somewhere. If something's going to take you 20 minutes to get there, take 40 minutes."

Lopez and other officers say behind most winter accidents is a driver trying to maintain the same speed he would if he were driving on dry pavement.
Lopez:


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