How to Avoid an Obstacle When Driving on Slippery Roads

Avoiding an obstacle on a slippery road requires you to hit the brakes, steer away from the obstacle without cranking the wheel, and stop the car.

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In the course of your driving career you may well encounter an obstacle on a slippery or snow-covered road - if in fact you haven’t yet come across an object you need to avoid. You don’t want to find yourself in such a situation with no idea what to do or how to protect yourself from danger so it’s wise to strategize beforehand. In this article, Part 1 will show how to avoid an obstacle on a slippery surface with an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), and Part 2 will explain how to avoid such an obstacle without ABS.

Part 1 of 2: How to avoid an obstacle on a slippery surface when your car has ABS

Anti-lock braking systems are designed to maximize the efficiency of the brakes by preventing them from locking up and retaining driver control over the vehicle.

Step 1: Hit the brakes. When you encounter a slippery surface, the first thing you should is try to slow down by hitting the brakes.

Step 2: Steer away from the obstacle. With your ABS active, you’ll be able to brake without losing your ability to steer the vehicle effectively.

Avoid the temptation to turn as hard or as far as you can in one direction as you may lose control of the vehicle. Slight turns are safer and more effective here.

Step 3: Come to a stop. Steer away from the obstacle as best you can and stop as soon as it is safely possible.

If your ABS system is working properly, you should able to continually hit the brakes all while steering your car, so pull over as soon as you can to recover.

Part 2 of 2: How to avoid an obstacle on a slippery surface without ABS

Step 1: Hit the brakes. Once you can tell you are sliding and see the obstacle in view, hit your brakes to slow yourself down.

Speed is your worst enemy here, so braking will take out the most dangerous element. At the very least, if you are going slower than you were and you make contact with the obstacle, the amount of damage will be reduced.

If you feel your brakes starting to lock up, pump the brakes. This mimics the action of ABS, retaining your control over the car.

You don’t want to stay on the brakes for too long as this will cause you to slide, so only depress the brake pedal until your vehicle slows slightly.

Step 2: Turn the steering wheel slightly away from the direction of the obstacle. You don’t want to crank the wheel as hard as you can because this will cause sliding.

You only want to turn about 90 degrees or slightly higher than this away from the direction of the obstacle. Effectively, this helps release stored up energy in the wheels and also moves you in the proper direction.

Step 3: Steer away from the obstacle. The most important thing is not to hit the obstacle, so find a safe point in your view and try to drive towards it.

Your goal in this situation is to regain control, and this is done by taking active steps to overcome the car’s sliding, which means using the steering wheel to get to a safe location.

Step 4: Stop the car. Once the obstacle has been avoided and you’ve regained control, pull over when safely possible and take a moment to regain your senses.

Avoiding an obstacle on a slippery surface requires no small amount of driving skill. You need to know how to brake properly, steer safely, and remain focused on your surroundings. Hopefully the situation will never arise where you’ll need to put this into practice, but if it does, you’ll have much more confidence knowing that you are prepared and are aware of what needs to be done.

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