Frosty roads give me a chance to use the 4wd option and it does make driving a whole lot easier when the roads change from yard to yard. As the early morning sun glistened off the snowy appearing surface, you might think this could be time for a little driving fun but as it had rained at first, then snowed and finally froze the white appearance hid a lethal problem. For more about starting the day see my blog Frosty morning driving
Given the test results of that initial 100 yards I go into one of three slippery driving modes: Number one is the standard wet road mode which is to leave a longer gap and maintain observation further ahead to ensure I can slow down, in the event of the traffic suddenly stopping, at a steady rate of reduction rather than becoming part of a problem for those following by hard braking on a slippery surface.
Second mode is best called snow mode as soft packing snow can be driven over quite quickly which policemen hate but on a busy motorway I have had the outside lane to myself to blast along while the inner two lanes are doodling at 40mph or less. While that may seem chancy you have to remember that we often have that kind of discrepancy between lane speeds and as long as everyone stays in the near side lanes there is as little risk as normally occurring speed ranges.
Number three mode, which I’ll term ice mode is the slowest due to the inherent danger of having almost nil grip. Snow on top of frozen water is the worst except for black ice but both require top attention and concentration so if you are driving in ice mode do not answer a phone even if you are hands free and don’t engage with passengers as you don’t need any distractions. For ice mode, you test more than in the first few moments of driving and pay particular care to road cambers especially on corners as these can see you off-roading at best or wrapped around a lamp post or tree at worst.
Black ice does present a slightly different challenge in addition to ice mode normal options, which is simply that often black ice appears in small patches on fast trunk roads, usually in low lying stretches due to them being frost pockets, so if you hear a traffic announcement warning of black ice do not immediately hit the brakes to reduce speed but do so gradually and don’t make any sudden movements with the steering wheel. If you feel the car is slipping, then maintain a soft but firm grip and don’t turn the wheel at all until you feel confident of the grip.
Images from Pixabay
© Rick Grain 13th November 2016