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Florida native gets lesson in safe Michigan winter driving

Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-18 10:35:49-05

Driving on icy roads can be very dangerous, especially if you've never driven on them before.

FOX 47's Carla Bayron got a crash course from the Michigan State Police's (MSP) Precision Drive Unit on what to do if your vehicle skids.

A huge part of driving during the winter in Michigan is experience, but for a native Floridian like Carla, experience in this department is something she lacks.

Carla practiced losing and regaining control on MSP's three-acre skid pad at their headquarters in Dimondale. The pad has the same consistency as hard-packed ice or snow.

"That small hesitation is what makes us go out of control. You have to react as soon you feel that (skidding)," said Sgt. Patrick Agema with MSP's Precision Drive Unit.

Make sure your hands are on 9 and 3 on the steering wheel. Look in the direction you want to go and steer. As soon as you feel your vehicle sliding, turn into the slide.

Turn your front wheels in the same direction as the rear of the vehicle is sliding. Unwind the steering with timing. The key is to be quick, hand over hand, to stop the skid and regain traction.

"Keep a good following distance," Agema said. "You also need to pick that slow speed to drive so you're in control of your vehicle."

You should have no distractions, like using your cell phone or snacking.

Good winter preparation starts before you even get in your vehicle.

"We want to make sure our tires are in good condition. Air pressure is up to par," Agema said.

You can't get practice on the skid pad like MSP recruits, but you can practice losing and regaining control in an empty parking lot.

Some other important recommendations for icy conditions:

  • Clear all of the snow and ice from your windows, lights and license plate before you drive,
  • Allow yourself extra time to get wherever you're going, and
  • Leave extra space between yourself and the car ahead of you.