Three of four underestimate distance needed
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Many motorists could be putting themselves and others at risk by not adapting their driving ability in winter conditions, according to new research.
Some are even confused about how to combat an icy skid. Twenty per cent of drivers said they would turn the steering wheel away from the skid rather than follow the correct procedure of taking the foot off the accelerator and then steering smoothly in the direction of the skid.
Surprisingly, the under 24-age group were the most likely to make this mistake and potentially cause a serious accident.
Of even greater concern, more than 75 per cent of the drivers surveyed underestimated stopping distances in icy conditions. The time it takes from braking to coming to a stop increases by 10 times on winter roads, but the majority of motorists think it is half this or less – a delusion which could catch many drivers unawares during an emergency braking situation.
This fact takes on even more importance locally, where a study by the Michelin tire company reports 57 per cent of Ontarians cite fast drivers as their biggest pet peeve. Yet, not surprisingly, 23 per cent of these drivers claim to be driving too fast on the snowy streets themselves.
So, after a long, mild lead-in to winter, perhaps it’s time to think about adjusting your driving techniques. Follow these tips for driving in wintry conditions:
• Drive slower – Reduce your speed when the weather is bad, as it will take you longer to stop.
• Leave more room – Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front.
• Avoid wheelspin – Use the highest gear you can. Instead of first, use second gear, for example.
• Stay balanced – Avoid sudden braking or increases in speed and sharp turns.
• Prevent weight shift – Don’t slam on the brakes or accelerate hard. Use a gentle throttle and brake lightly.
If you do start to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal, do not brake suddenly and steer into the skid.