GENTLEMAN'S HANDBOOK, VOL. 9.7: HOW TO DRIVE ON BLACK ICE

Get control of yourself, man!

By The Editors

The 4 Commandments of Driving on Black Ice
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27 January 2016

This is the Gentleman’s Handbook, a recurring series on all the lemons life’s fixing to hand you and how to prepare accordingly. This month: Winter Survival.

Driving on black ice is at some point  like dinner with the in-laws — inevitable.

So, let’s assess the situation and make the most of it.

We tapped Zac Moseley, of Manhattan’s Classic Car Club for a bit of know-how. He also happens to be a badass racer. And occasionally he races on ice. For fun.

Here’s what the man had to say.

First off, you’re on ice, there’s very little you can do. Safety is going to come from the prep work.

Gear up
Remove summer or sport tires for winter compounds. Winter compounds are made to produce higher levels of grip. And forego all-weather tires  they’re mediocre all the time and never the preferred option.

Look out
Best way not to crash on black ice? Identify black ice. Do so by: keeping a safe distance between you and the potentially unlucky guinea pig in front of you allowing for surveying the road. Make sure headlights are clean, functioning and aimed properly. Many times as suspension starts to sag, or if there are people or cargo on board, the lights begin to face up and away from the road.

Get in control
Yep, you’re on black ice. Firstly, understand that an SUV with 4-wheel drive doesn’t mean squat. Four wheels, two wheels, a unicycle, no matter, ice is ice. The goal is to keep a straight path. If ice is across the entire road, enter it facing the direction you want to exit it. Don’t change direction. Don’t change speed. These will cause a spin. Approaching the ice, ease off the throttle, slowly bring the wheel to center and make as few adjustments as possible.

S***, we’re sliding
Stay calm. Assess the situation. Are there trees, cars, cows? Don’t look at them. You steer where you’re looking. It’s called “Target Fixation.” Rather, look where you want to end up and keep your vision locked there.

Then, steer into the slide. Meaning  say you’re sliding into a wall and obviously you want to avoid it. If you crank the wheel further away from it, you’re asking even more of your front tires and inducing more slide. Instead, open the wheel and steer into the direction of the slide. This gives your front tires an opportunity to find any level of traction. Using very gentle inputs, coax the wheel and the car back in the direction you meant to travel. You might get closer to the wall to ultimately get away from it.

Never. Slam. On. The. Brakes. You’ll lose any level of control that might have been there.

Safe travels, gents. Steer clear.

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