Winter Driving: What To Do If Your Car Skids
Winter doesn’t create the friendliest driving conditions. And when roads are covered in ice or snow, your vehicle could skid and cause an accident, putting you and other drivers at risk.
The good news: There are steps you can take if your car begins to skid that will help you regain control of your vehicle.
Take your foot off the gas. Do not increase your speed if your car starts to skid. Hitting the accelerator will make your wheels spin at an even faster pace.
Don’t slam on the brakes. Your natural reaction may be to hit the brakes, but that gut instinct could do more harm than good. Instead, softly pump the brakes. This will prevent your car’s antilock braking system (ABS)—a common features on many vehicles—from locking up the wheels.
Avoid rapid movements. The key to navigating a skid is to drive slowly and carefully. Pro tip: Drive like you have a full cup of coffee in your lap and don't want to spill it.
Steer into a slide. If your car starts to turn sideways, steer the wheel in the direction that the vehicle is going rather than trying to jerk the wheel in the opposite direction. This will help straighten out the car. Once the tires gain traction again, you’ll have control of the vehicle.
Prevent skids before they occur. To drive safely in harsh winter weather and prevent skids from happening in the first place, you’ll want to take the following precautions:
Replace worn tires. Even partially worn wheels can cause your tires to lose traction when driving on snow or ice. If your tire tread depth is less than 4/32 inch, it's time for new wheels (6/32 of an inch is considered “Good.”) . You can buy a tread depth gauge from an auto parts shop, or have a mechanic check your tire depth. (Consider installing snow tires, which have deeper tread, if you live in an area with heavy snowfall.)
Drive cautiously. Safe driving in the winter entails: allowing longer braking distance (keeping a distance of three-to-four car lengths between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you); accelerating and decelerating smoothly; braking gradually; and using headlights at all times (except in fog) to make your car as visible as possible to other drivers. For more tips, see our sidebar on how to drive safely on snow and ice.
Prep your vehicle. Before you hit the road, de-ice your windshield and clear snow from your car’s roof, windows, headlights, and taillights to improve your visibility while you drive.
Take extra care when driving on bridges and overpasses. Bridges often freeze before roadways because they lose heat from all sides and are typically built from steel or concrete, which don’t retain heat well.
Keep an eye on the forecast. Check the weather before you leave your house. If there’s a severe snow or ice storm, consider staying home.
Our Risk Coaches™ are licensed insurance professionals who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re standing by to help you review your auto insurance policy and fill any gaps in coverage before winter arrives. Contact your local Risk Coach professional or call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Product, service, program, credit, and discount availability and limits vary by state. The information provided on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a full explanation of products, services, or coverage. For more information, please contact Electric Insurance Company at 800.227.2757. If there are discrepancies between the information on this site and the policy, the terms in the policy apply.
Electric Insurance Company Risk Coaches help you assess your current coverages and exposure to risk based on the information you provide during your discussion. The services provided are for informational purposes only and do not create a professional or fiduciary relationship. Incomplete information or a change in your circumstances after your meeting may affect coverage requirements or recommendations.
How to Drive Safely on Snow and Ice
Snow and ice-covered streets create treacherous driving conditions. So treacherous that there are nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter.
Take the following steps to drive safely on snow and ice:
- Prep your vehicle. Get your car or truck ready for winter. Start with your tires—make sure they’re properly inflated.
- Map out your route. Plan your drive strategically. Stay on main roads while avoiding steep hills, congested areas, and bridges whenever possible.
- Minimize distractions. Now is not the time to be driving while listening to loud music, engaging in animated conversations with passengers, or eating. Keep your eyes on the road and stay alert.
For more tips, check out our article on how to drive safely on snow and ice.