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How to Correct a Slide on an Icy Road

how to correct a slide on an icy road

As the going gets icy this winter, with plummeting temperatures and busy holiday roads, you better be ready for the unique problem of sliding on ice. If you are unsure about the best method to correct a vehicle sliding on ice, then read on. It’s invaluable advice that could keep you safe should the unthinkable happen.

Foot off the accelerator

As soon as you detect a slide on the ice, you will notice that control over the car is limited. Remove your foot from the accelerator immediately, this will introduce a small amount of engine braking and resistance in the rotating wheels. This is good as it will give you more time to react in the coming seconds.

Do not use your brakes

While the car is sliding, do not use your foot brake or handbrake. Though it may be tempting to press as hard as you can on the brake pedal, this is almost certain to worsen the slide and send the vehicle into a tailspin. This is caused by the wheels locking up completely and the ABS being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the skid and lack of grip.  

Reducing your speed

Reducing your speed gradually throughout this manoeuvre is the key to regaining control. Part of slowing down is guiding the car along its natural path and allowing gravity to do the work and slow your momentum. Obviously this is harder and will take longer at higher speeds, but the hope is that your car will find purchase on the road surface the further it travels and it is likely to travel over a part of the road that is free of ice.


Steering is a crucial part of correcting the slide. Your aim is to gently guide the vehicle along its original path in the road or lane. That means minor corrections to turn into the skid. For a short time your vehicle body and wheels will be pointing in different directions. Do not be alarmed and instead be ready for the body to align with the wheels and direction of travel. While this is happening aim to adjust the steering again to bring it in line with the road. All of these movements are small and important. Do not steer aggressively or to extremes as this will make matters worse.

Remain calm

Your most valuable asset in this scenario is to stay calm under pressure. If you take a deep breath at the start of the skid and use your instincts where physics is concerned, you will be fine. Remember: braking is a learned response that fixes the problem in most instances but snow and ice are exceptional circumstances. Whenever you drive in icy and snowy conditions, arm yourself with this knowledge and be prepared to use it.

Tentative braking

Once the skid is corrected, you may start to use cautious braking. However, if the road is still icy, you can continue to let the car wind down to a slower speed on its own while you guide it into a lay by or hard shoulder. This is only if you feel the need to calm down after this manoeuvre, as many will find correcting a skid on icy roads unpleasant. Afterwards, rejoin the highway and be extra cautious.

Rules for winter driving

  • Keep your car free of ice: at the very least, clear snow and ice from your windscreen, windows, mirrors, lights and roof.
  • Keep essentials in the boot: extra warm clothing, gloves, a torch, shovel, blankets, food and water should all go in alongside your tools and spare wheel.
  • Consider a service: winter is an ideal time to have your car checked over before winter, especially if any of the warning lights are showing on the dashboard.
  • Lower your speed: keep your speeds down over winter; at no other time of year is it more important to arrive late and alive.
  • Increase following distances: tailgating is a big no-no any time of year, but is especially so in winter. Double your following distances to increase safety.
  • Use your mirrors and indicators: remember to check the road behind and to sides (using your mirrors), indicate your intentions to other drivers (using your indicators) and then make your manoeuvre.

Tyres Northampton supply, fit and check tyres that are made for every make and model of vehicle on Britain’s roads. If you’re unsure about tyre safety and would like a professional tyre fitter to check your tyres for wear and tear, be sure to contact us today and stay safe on winter roads! We’re the premier tyre centre for customers in Corby, Milton Keynes, Rugby and the surrounding areas and offer a wide selection of winter tyres that make journeys on the coldest days much safer. Contact us today.


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