Drive on Ice

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Winter Driving

DON'T PUMP THE BRAKES

A car, with or without antilock brakes, stops faster if you apply steady pressure that keeps the tires just below their lock-up threshold. If you do lock 'em up, take a pound of pressure off your brake foot to keep the pads engaged and the tires rolling.

GEAR DOWN

Whether ascending or descending hills, put the car in a lower gear for more traction. Your brakes will lock easily on the descent—downshift instead.

BRAKE ONLY AS A LAST RESORT

"Nine times out of 10 your brakes are your enemy, Olson says. Keep your eyes moving for an escape route—a curb to help scrub speed or an open field—in case things turn dire.

AVOID OBSTACLES LIKE A PRO

Just as you'd come into a tight section on skis, dump speed before the crux with steady pressure on the brakes. Unlike on skis, though, in a car you should never brake while turning. Release the pedal, steer smoothly around the obstacle, and reapply the brakes when your hands are back at nine and three.

BIGGER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER

Four-wheel drive means you can accelerate faster, but stopping takes as much time as ever: The heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop.

GET WINTER BLADES
Get a pair that won't freeze up (see the related article "Pimp My Ride"). And use a wiper fluid that has a chemical like Rain-X mixed in to keep your windshield clear of ice.

BUY BETTER TIRES
Thanks to softer rubber, cushioned studs, snow-banishing lugs, and lots of little "sipes (slits in the tread surface), good winter tires afford dramatically better traction than all-season tires. (See the related article "Pimp My Ride.")

LIGHTS ON
If your wipers are on, your headlights should be too.

SLOW IT DOWN
In dicey conditions, cut the recommended speed limit on curves in half.

QUICK TIP
Be subtle. Cranking the wheel or mashing the brakes are the quickest ways to loose control.

LEARN MORE
The Aspen Winter Driving Experience holds half-day and full-day courses in driving on icy roads. Students practice race-car and car-controlling techniques on a 1.1-mile, eight-curve course in loaner Volvos or Land Rovers. Half-day safety courses start at $250 (aspenwinterdriving.com).

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Tips on Winter Driving from Audi

I thought I knew about going fast on ice. I’ve skied the east, after all. But when Audi invited me to go to Austria to drive their cars on ice, I realized I had a lot to learn. Here are some driving tips I picked up while spinning donuts on Austrian ice. —Niall Bouzon