Brakes, shade and brine solution: Tips for staying safe on icy roads

Posted January 24, 2013 5:44 pm | Filed under Local News

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through 6 p.m. Friday as forecasters are predicting ice, sleet and freezing rain tomorrow afternoon. Authorities say if you can stay off the roads — you should. Lance Corporal Billy Elder of the S.C. Highway Patrol says one of the worst things you can do is go sightseeing after the skies clear — but people still do it.

Elder said Thursday that just because the skies have cleared and your driveway may be clear, roads may still be slick.

Specifically, areas of the roadway that receive a lot of shade.

And although mother nature’s dose of winter weather is few and far between, Elder says it is important for you to know your vehicle and how to operate it under all weather conditions. Elder says that if you have Anti-lock brakes and you skid on icy roads — your brakes will start pulsating — and this is normal.

Elder says that if at all possible, avoid unnecessary driving while the roads are slick. Road crews in both Carolinas have been treating area highways with a brine solution to prevent ice buildup since later this morning.

Among Elder’s other tips for driving on icy roads:

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid

  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid

  •  Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  • Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again.
  • Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Source: SC Highway Patrol