Icy Roads: How to Correct a Slide

If you're sliding and fishtailing at all, it means that you are going too fast for the conditions. If you drive at a safe speed on ice and snow (45mph or less) and avoid sudden braking, acceleration or turns, you won't need to worry about correcting anything. The higher the speed, the more difficult it is to correct a slide. Most slides or fishtails that happen above 45mph require very quick and precise steering to correct, and are beyond the ability of most drivers to successfully manage.

If you find yourself caught off guard and in a slide, doing the following may help you regain control:

  • Release your brakes
    ABS (antilock brakes) do not work well on ice, and often will lock up your wheels regardless. Sliding wheels are uncontrollable, that is, steering input will not change the vehicle's direction if the wheels are sliding.
  • Turn into the slide
    Turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. If this happens (called overcorrecting), you'll need to turn in the opposite direction.
The following video clip shows several drivers that responded correctly to their skidding cars. Unfortunately, recovering a skid at high speed on ice, even when done correctly, is very difficult - and as you can see, two of the cars couldn't avoid losing complete control in the end. Even so, their response to their slides were correct, despite the outcome. Watch the direction their wheels turned and how the vehicle responded (click the picture below to watch video):

Watch Video: Correcting a sliding car
Click for video

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Deaths in the US
from icy roads
2009-2010 winter
[ More Statistics ]

Deaths in the US
from icy roads
2008-2009 winter
[ More Statistics ]

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