Winter Driving 101: Lifesaving advice every driver needs to hear

(CONSUMER REPORTS) — 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 lifesaving advice that every driver needs to hear.

Jennifer Stockburger oversees operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center and says it’s important that everyone knows how to drive in freezing conditions! She says that slow, deliberate motions let you gauge where your traction capabilities are as well as leaving a lot of room. 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 who may not be driving appropriately.

Think your four-wheel or all-wheel drive will help on black ice? Think again. All vehicles have four-wheel brakes, and it’s actually your car’s antilock brakes that can help you safely regain control and stop. You’ll know the antilock 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. 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!

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