Winter driving brings extra concerns for drivers. Hitting a patch of ice can send your car careening out of control but there are techniques drivers can use to keep the vehicle from on track. The first thing is to identify when icy conditions are at their worst. Black ice forms when temperatures are at their lowest, usually at night or early morning. It is very hard to detect because it forms with no bubbles or cracks and is transparent so it will look just like the pavement.
That lack of visibility can lead even the most seasoned drivers to catching a patch of ice and sliding or fishtailing. If you’re going too fast for the conditions or have to suddenly brake the car will start to take on a mind of its own. The first, and most important thing, is to stay calm. Overreacting to at the start of the slide will send the car too far the other way and quickly spin out of control. A skid or slide is caused by change of direction so when you over-correct the steering wheel you are just sending it in a different direction which leads to another skid.
The other cause of a slide or fishtail is changing speed. Hitting the brakes is a common first reaction when you start to lose control but that dramatic change of speed will have dangerous consequences. The best solution is to slow down gradually by taking your foot off the accelerator and letting the car slow on its own.
If you are in the midst of a slide, you need to steer into the direction of the slide. This means turning your wheels in the direction the back of your car is going. This seems counter-intuitive, but the reasoning is sound. Once you have entered a slide the steering wheel is no longer in control so cranking the wheel in the other direction will not have an impact except to maybe cause a slide in the other direction. By pointing the wheels in the direction of the slide, you will have an easier time getting the control back and getting through the patch of ice and back to where you can drive safely again.
The main key is to drive at a safe speed for the conditions of the road so if a slide does happen you can give yourself the time to correct it.