Winter Driving Tips – What to Do If You Lose Traction
In the winter, loss of traction can occur anytime, anywhere – when going too fast around a corner, when dry conditions quickly change to rain or ice, when parked incorrectly on an icy hill, or applying too much brake (causing the wheels to lock).
Common Causes for Loss of Traction
- Over-braking – Braking too hard can lock up the wheels
- Over-steering – Turning the wheels too sharply can cause the back end of the vehicle to slide out
- Over-acceleration – Supplying too much power to the drive wheels can cause them to spin
- Driving Too Fast – The most serious loss of traction results from driving too fast for the conditions
How to Prevent Loss of Traction
- Always have a load spread evenly from left to right.
- Ensure your tire tread depth meets or exceeds the legal minimum of 3.5mm (5/32”)
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated
- Don’t drive too fast for the conditions
- Beware of fatigue
Parking on a Hill
- Generally, it’s best to avoid parking on any steep hills. However, if you must than:
- Facing Downhill – turn your tires towards the curb or right shoulder. This prevents the vehicle from rolling into traffic.
- Facing Uphill (with a curb) – Turn your steering wheel to the left so the tires are turned towards the road. They’ll catch the curb if it rolls back.
- Facing Uphill (no curb) – Turn your tires sharply to the right. If the vehicle rolls, it will go off the road, not into traffic.
- *Note: if it’s icy, spread a little sand under the tires
What to Do If You Lose Traction
Drive Axle Skid
If the drive axle tires are not locking up:
- Gently reduce the pressure on brakes – if on ice, push in the clutch to let the wheels turn freely
- Turn the steering wheel quickly – look and steer in the direction you want to go
- Counter-steer – as the vehicle gets back on course, counter-steer to avoid skidding in the opposite direction
If the drive axle tires are locking up:
- If only the Jake brake is on, turn it off or reduce number of heads applied until traction is recovered
- If only the wheel brakes are on, decrease or release pressure on the brake pedal
- If both the Jake and wheel brakes are on, turn off the Jake brake or reduce number of heads applied. If still skidding, decrease or release pressure on the brake pedal. Note: If you have to release both the Jake and wheel brakes, gentle application of the trailer brakes can also help.
Steering Axle Skid
- Gently turn the steering wheel back towards centre. As the tires straighten you should “feel” the steering tires recover traction.
Steering and Drive Axle Skid
- If both the steering and drive axle tires are skidding, reduce or briefly release pressure on the break pedal.
Don’t Forget Your Own Personal Traction
- In icy conditions, wear shoes or boots with god traction. Maintain three points of contact with your hands and feet when entering or exiting the cab.
Driving Tips Courtesy of: Shift Into Winter – Get A Grip When Driving In Winter Conditions
Tia Chisholm, HUB International TRANSPORTATION
HUB International TRANSPORTATION specialists are based in Vancouver. Our longstanding relationships with the best providers in the business allow us to deliver the solution that serve you best. With HUB, you can run your business knowing that you are headed in the right direction.