How to drive on ice and snow

How to drive on ice and snow
Police say don't let the slush break up from this afternoon fool you. It's going to turn hard and very slick on the streets tonight. Officers say winter conditions call for different tactics behind the wheel.

EUGENE, Ore. - Sub-freezing temperatures are with us in the Willamette Valley for the next few days.

That means dangerous, slick conditions on the roads.

Police say don't let the slush break up from this afternoon fool you.  It's going to turn hard and very slick on the streets tonight.  Officers say winter conditions call for different tactics behind the wheel.

Dashing through the snow -- sideways?  Let's face it: we're driving on ice rinks for the next few days, so we have to adjust to the conditions.

Eugene police say the problems boil down to three key points.  

Officer Nate Pieske sums it up: "Steering too quickly, braking too quickly or accelerating too quickly."

Pieske is the driving training officer for EPD.  He goes behind the wheel to show us what he's talking about. 

"Your steering input (steering motion) is nice and slow instead of trying to go fast, because then you start to lose control," Pieske says of driving in slick conditions. 

Another critical step is following distance.  Normal following distance in dry conditions for dry pavement, police say, should be about 2 seconds between yourself and the next vehicle ahead.  Pieske says in ice and snow, multiply that times 2 or 3. 

"We recommend that during winter driving conditions, multiply that up to maybe 4 to 6 seconds and give yourself plenty of time to react to other drivers," Pieske says.

All right, I've slowed down, following distance is good, but for whatever reason I still go into a skid.  Pieske says above all, don't panic -- and keep your foot off the gas.

"Your car is going to start to slow down and just make sure you keep your wheels pointed in the direction you want to go," explains Pieske.

In short, police say in ice and snow, take it slow to keep your trip from going sideways.

Officer Pieske stresses having four-wheel drive or studded tires or chains are a help, but do not replace safe defensive driving in these tough, icy conditions.