6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Winter Driving 101

Winter Driving 101

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(ABC 6 News) – Winter weather comes in many forms. Even if there’s no snow, rain, sleet and ice can be dangerous, especially for drivers.

Consumer Reports has some life-saving advice that every driver needs to hear.

That light on your dashboard may be your only warning that temperatures are low enough for the potential of ice or slick spots on roads.

Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports says, “If there was ever a time that slow and steady wins the race, it’s in this case where you have the potential to lose traction.”

Stockburger oversees operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center and says it’s important that everyone know how to drive in freezing conditions!

“So very slow, deliberate motions let you gauge where you traction capabilities are as well as leaving a lot of room,” says Stockburger. “Everything in slick conditions takes longer so leave yourself that room. It not only gives you that room, but it protects you from other drivers that may not be driving appropriately.”

Think your 4-wheel or all-wheel drive will help on black ice? Think again.

All vehicles have 4-wheel brakes and it’s actually your car’s anti-lock brakes that can help you safely regain control and stop.

You’ll know the anti-lock brakes are working when they start to pulse against your foot, do not remove your foot from the brake– maintain firm pressure on the pedal and let them do their job.

And if your car does begin to slide, here’s the best way to regain control.

“There are really two kinds of skids, OVERSTEER and UNDERSTEER. In both cases, the reaction should be to turn in the direction you want the car to go,” explains Stockburger. “With oversteer, it’s very intuitive. You turn into the skid and when you gain grip you end up going where you want to go. In understeer, you’re turning, but the car is going straight ahead and your gut wants to dial in more steering. Don’t do that. Keep the wheel steady where you’re headed so that when you gain grip, you are going where you want to be. In both cases, avoid abrupt motions!”

And don’t forget tires!

Properly inflated with good traction, tires can often make the difference when winter weather is at its worst.

Newer cars with advanced safety features can also help you avoid an accident, but they can only work properly if they’re clear of snow, salt, ice and mud.