SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It happens every winter, even for those of us who are experienced at driving on snow and ice. We have to get used to the idea of slowing down.
But there are times when conditions surprise us, or other drivers aren’t being as cautious.
That’s where technology like ABS, and traction control come in handy.
John Ewert with Road America Race Track in Wisconsin says the best winter drivers know how to make that technology work for them. They teach a winter driving course. They tell their students that slamming on the brakes in snow, even with ABS or Anti-lock Breaking System, is not the best option.
“If you actually push the pedal softer with a little bit more force allowing more distance from the car in front of you, your ABS might kick in but still it will kick in in a way that it adjusts to the slide, it will adjust to one wheel turning and one wheel not turning and still it allows you time to stop,” said John Ewert with Road America.
With or without ABS a good rule of thumb is the softer the surface the softer you brake. On pavement you brake hard… On snow you brake gently.
Ewert says keeping a full tank of gas not only can keep you warm if you get stuck, the extra weight helps your vehicle handle better in winter conditions. Another thing they teach in their winter driving course is never use cruise control in the wintertime.
“Because cars are so automatic these days that once tires begin to spin on snow or ice that cruise control will adapt to keep that car moving at speed and that can cause a car to go out of control, said Ewert.
And finally traction control helps keep you on the road, by transferring power away from wheels that are slipping.
“Traction control is never a failsafe its just something for a little added piece of mind if roads are slick and wet.”
Even the experts say the best advice for winter driving is still slow down and leave 4 seconds between you and the car in front of you.
Road America is located in Plymouth, Wisconsin about a 7-hour drive from Sioux Falls. If you are curious, their winter driving class takes place on a closed course and costs 160 dollars.