With many Northwest roads snow-free but icy, we offer these specific tips. The overarching theme: Do everything slowly and gently.
Never brake and turn at the same time. Brake gently only while traveling straight ahead, well before you turn. Get off the brakes before you start turning. Try to coast through the turn, or apply very gentle throttle pressure.
Point your wheels in the direction of a skid. What’s that mean? If you start to spin out, let off the gas, don’t brake, and gently turn your front wheels in the direction you want to go. Eventually you should stop fishtailing and regain control.
Throw a bag of cat litter in your trunk. It won’t help much in snow, but if you get stuck on ice, spread cat litter under your tires and in your path to gain traction.
Think twice before tackling a hill. What if you have to stop, then can’t move forward again? Or what if you lose momentum before cresting the top and start to slide backward? You’ll probably bang into other cars, unless you can slide against a curb to stop your descent.
Fill up your gas tank. If you slide off the road or get stuck behind a pileup, you’ll want plenty of gas – not just to drive, but to run your car’s heater!
Studs grip ice, even if they’re hard on pavement. It’s true that studded tires take their toll on Northwest roads, and in lowlands west of the Cascades they’re not often warranted. But if you drive where roads are frequently icy all winter, like east of the mountains, studs improve traction and safety. Snow tires won’t grip ice, but studded tires do.
The best advice of all is, unless you truly must drive, stay home!