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black ice on road

Driving in Icy Conditions

Ice-slicked roads create treacherous driving conditions that can lead to serious accidents. When driving icy conditions, a vehicle will not act according to the laws of physics. For example, on a curve, a car will keep going straight, no matter how frantically you turn the wheel. The inertia keeps it going in that direction. Winter tires help and there is a reason that the government has mandated discounts for drivers who have winter tires, however these often aren’t enough when it comes to ice.

Here are some practical driving tips to help avoid getting into an accident in icy conditions:

  • Do not hit the brakes – If you are on a road covered with ice tapping the brakes is the worst thing you could possibly do. When you hit the brakes on an icy road, the car will almost certainly go into a side-wise slide or lock up.
  • Drive slowly and avoid over steering or jerky movements of the wheel and drive at a cautious speed.
  • Change directions gradually – Any abrupt lane change or sudden steering will throw the weight of the car around and that could be just enough to overcome whatever little traction you’ve got-resulting in a spin-out or slide.
  • Avoid fishtailing: Fishtailing is when the rear-wheels of a car lose traction. When this happens, back off the gas pedal and attempt to regain control by steering in the direction of the skid.
  • Install your winter tires: A set of four snow tires is a whole lot cheaper than a hefty body shop repair bill or the increased insurance premiums that might go with that. Winter tires are much more safe than all seasons or other tires in icy conditions.
  • Do not follow to close: If there are other vehicles on the road be cautious and if you are behind someone do not follow them to close. If someone is following you too closely move to the side of the road and let them pass.
  • How to act in worst case scenarios: If you find yourself in a skid that you can’t control or steer out of, try to plan your impact to minimize the damage to yourself and others, and your vehicle. If possible, go for something that can cushion the impact such as a snowbank or grassy ditch.

Naturally, the best thing to do when the roads are icy is to stay at home and relax with a cup of hot cacao. At the end of the day your destination can wait until the weather clears, it is simply not worth risking it! To speak with a licensed McDougall Insurance professional about our various options for auto insurance coverage, please call us at 1-800-361-0941.


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