Slowing down is the most important thing to do when driving on ice and snow. High speeds make it both easy to lose control and difficult to stop. In many cases, much slower speeds are necessary. You can slide off of the road on certain types of more treacherous icing – like black ice – at 10mph or less. If you’re fishtailing or sliding at all, it means you are going too fast for the conditions.
You will also want to pay attention to the weather. This includes where you are leaving from, where you are headed, and any roads or areas you are driving. This can help you to be aware of what the roads will be like, and how you should drive.
Brake application is a common trigger of slides that result in a loss of vehicle control. ABS (antilock brakes) do not work well on ice and snow, and often will lock up your wheels regardless. Sliding wheels are uncontrollable, that is, steering input will not change the vehicle’s direction if the wheels are sliding.
If you’re fishtailing or sliding, it usually means you are going too fast. Reduce your speed so you won’t need to worry about this! Most high-speed slides are difficult to correct successfully. If you’re caught off guard and begin sliding, turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. You will also want to make sure that your vehicle has a winter survival kit, so incase you are in an accident, you will have plenty of things to keep you warm, signal for help, and something to eat or a bottle of water to drink.