How to Go On Ice and Snow

Clear a path in front of the wheels for several feet by either driving the vehicle frontward and backward or by shoveling snow out of the way. With wheels pointed straight, shift into drive (manual transmissions) and apply gentle pressure to accelerator. Try to ease out of parking space without spinning the wheels.

If more traction is needed, use traction mats or spread some sand, salt, or other abrasive material such as cat litter in front of and in back of the drive wheels. Do not let anyone stand directly in line with the drive wheels, as they may be injured by objects thrown by the spinning wheels.

If these techniques do not work, you may have to rock the vehicle out of the rut. Start with the vehicle in low gear (manual transmissions). When the vehicle will go no farther forward, release the accelerator to allow the car to roll backward. When the vehicle stops rolling back, apply minimum pressure to the accelerator again. Repeat these steps in rapid succession.

Following Other Vehicles
Normal dry pavement following distance (2-3 seconds) should be increased to 8-10 seconds when driving on slippery, icy surfaces. Minimize brake use on icy hills; opt for gentle, slow brake application (squeeze braking) to avoid locking the wheels and skidding.

A skid occurs when you apply the brakes so hard that one or more wheels lock, or if you press hard on the accelerator and spin the drive wheels. Skids also occur when you are traveling too fast on a curve and encounter a slippery surface. There are some basic steps you can take to help correct the most common type of skids, known as rear-wheel skids. If your rear wheels skid due to hard or panic braking, do the following:

  1. Don't brake. Don't jerk the steering wheel. Most important, don't panic.
  2. Shift into neutral gear (manual transmission).
  3. Look and steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. As the wheels stop skidding toward the right or left, counter-steer until you are going in the desired direction.
  4. Wait for the wheels to grip the road again. If you over-correct the first skid, be prepared for a skid in the opposite direction.
  5. As soon as the wheels regain traction, the vehicle will travel in the desired direction. Once the vehicle is straight, shift back into drive and apply gentle accelerator pressure. Accelerate smoothly to a safe speed.

Take special caution along certain roadway areas such as shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections. These are areas where ice is likely to form or be the most slippery. To compensate for the longer stopping distances required when driving on slippery surfaces, focus your attention as far ahead as possible (at least 20-30 seconds) and allow for the greatest margin of safety to the front. 

If you don't have anti-lock brakes - The best way to make a controlled stop is the "heel-and-toe" method. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use your toes to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal just short of the point at which the wheels lock up and stop turning. Remember to keep your heel on the floor to allow you to best control your stop. Under the stress of trying to stop quickly, drivers almost inevitably overreact and lock the wheels. If this happens, use the toe-and-heel action to release brake pressure and then immediately re-apply it with slighly less pressure.

If you have anti-lock brakes - Use the heel-and-toe method, but do not remove your foot from the brake. When you put on the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal pulse back against your foot. Do not pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake. Anit-lock braking systems are designed to relieve pressure as soon as a skid is detected in order to allow the wheel to turn again, and for you to steer the vehicle to a stop. Pumping the brake pedal works against the anti-lock brake system by providing false information.