When driving in icy conditions, you must use all controls with care. When setting off you must bring the clutch up gently and gradually without too much power from the engine. Steering must be smooth and steady, particularly if you’re moving out at an angle from behind a parked car. Acceleration has to be very gentle and any gear changes carried out without any jerkiness from the pedals.
Use of Gears
Once on the move you should stay in as high a gear as you can. In a high gear there is less turn of the wheels for any given amount of acceleration; this cuts down on the risk of the wheels spinning and losing their grip. This principle is particularly important when cornering; you will lose nothing by turning in third gear perhaps where you would normally use second in some situations.
A lower gear is more responsive and provides quicker acceleration. But on a slippery surface you must pick up speed at such a steady rate that the use of a low gear may not be of any value. Bear in mind however that you should not cause the engine to labour unduly if the gear is not suitable for your speed.
Braking on Ice
The control which needs the most careful handling on snow and ice is the footbrake. Anything but the gentlest application of the pedal can cause the wheels to lock and slide, with this in mind you must pay much more attention to what is happening ahead and always be planning far in advance, and above all keep your distance!
Stopping distances can be as much as ten times greater than on a dry firm road surface and this fact must always be borne in mind when following other vehicles.
It is best to avoid using the brake as much as possible, if you’re alert enough to the situations that are developing well ahead then you can start reducing speed in good time simply by taking your foot off the gas and allowing the car to decelerate, you can then use the brakes with the lightest of pressure.
ABS braking systems are now almost standard equipment on all cars. This will stop your wheels from locking up when braking on slippery surfaces but don’t think that this will stop you getting into trouble. The ABS system allows you to keep some steering control while braking but it doesn’t stop you any quicker.
You must operate all controls with as much smoothness as you can manage; no bumps or jerks, no sudden changes of direction, no firm acceleration or braking. Try to imagine that you’re acting as someone’s chauffeur for the day.