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Every driver should know how to stay safe on icy roads. Even if you live in a warm climate where it rarely snows, you never know when you might have to deal with a patch of road ice on a family vacation, on a work trip, or while bugging out. On the other hand, if you live in a colder region, dealing with icy roads is simply a fact of life each winter. Unfortunately, an average of 559 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of icy road conditions, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Unless you want to risk becoming part of that statistic, you should know the basics of driving safely on an icy road.
First things first: here are some general tips to think about before you even get behind the wheel during the winter.
The next step is to know how to analyze the road conditions around you. By watching carefully, you can be ready for rapidly changing road surfaces. The following video from Below Zero is targeted at drivers in the UK, but its message is relevant to drivers anywhere. Racing instructor Richard Tuthill explains how to deal with mixed road surfaces:
While that video provides some good tips for driving on ice and snow, it doesn't fully cover what to do if you start to lose control. Here are the primary ways vehicles lose control in winter:
The video below from automotive journalist Scott Newell shows how to recover from skids on ice or snow.
The cliffs notes version is this:
For more information on safe driving in winter, check out these tips from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation or read our previous article on 4×4 vs AWD.