Driving on Snow and Ice
The arrival of winter and cold temperatures also brings the likelihood of inclement weather. The NTTA’s safety experts offer tips for driving on treacherously slick roads. Of course, the best advice for driving in bad weather is not to drive at all if you can avoid it.
“If at all avoidable, don’t venture out until the sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work,” said Marty Legé, the NTTA’s director of system and incident management. “Don’t drive too closely to sanding vehicles, and be aware that they move slower than surrounding traffic. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.”
- Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up or slide, ease off the brake.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean.
- Use lower gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Never use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses – they will freeze first. In addition, you might encounter ice in shady areas and after dark.
- Do not pass sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
- Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
If the vehicle’s rear wheels skid:
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they are sliding right, steer right.
- If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
- If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
- If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse—this is normal.
If the vehicle’s front wheels skid:
- Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral.
- As the vehicle slides sideways, they will slow the vehicle, and traction will return. As traction returns, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch and accelerate gently.
- Most importantly, don’t panic or make erratic maneuvers.
If the vehicle gets stuck:
- Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
- Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
- Use a light touch on the gas to ease your vehicle out.
- Pouring sand, kitty litter, or salt in the path of the wheels will improve traction.
- Try to rock the vehicle (check your owner’s manual first—it can damage the transmission on some vehicles). Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
If the winter weather affects NTTA toll roads, log on to www.NTTA.org for updates about road conditions as needed.
The NTTA wants you to always have a safe travel experience. If you see a hazard, need help, or see someone else who needs help, you may call 9-1-1 or dial directly into our Command Center at 214-224-2203. Our Roadway Customer Service Specialists will respond to help you 24/7 free of charge. We’ll change your tire, make minor vehicle repairs, help you get a wrecker if needed, and will even provide a small amount of gasoline to get you on your way. These services are provided for by your toll dollars, so please call us when you need help.