How to Drive on Icy Streets

By Allie Oosta December 23, 2011 Published in the January 2012 issue of Seattle Met

IT DOESN’T SNOW OFTEN in the Emerald City, but when it does drivers tend to slide across the asphalt like penguins on ice, smashing into other cars and risking injury or worse. Steve Pratt, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s head of street maintenance, braves the roads every time they go white. He says there are three ways to avoid becoming road spill.

1. GO EASY ON THE BRAKE Slamming on the foot brake is the quickest way to skate uncontrollably through an intersection or go bowling for parked cars. Instead, give the pedal a series of light taps.

2. DRIVE SLOW The faster you’re going, the more dramatic your crash will be. Leave extra space between you and the car in front of you, and never use cruise control in snowy conditions.

3. STEER WITH PRECISION When a car starts to skid or slip, the instinct is to spin the steering wheel in the opposite direction, which only makes the situation worse. Instead, embrace the skid. Turn smoothly in the direction you’re already going, and accelerate lightly until you’ve regained control.

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