Slow down! That's the number one piece of advice given by the Keweenaw Research Center to drive safely on slippery roads. When you're driving fast and brake or turn abruptly, you'll likely start to slide out of control. Mark Osborne, Program Director of the KRC, tests vehicles for companies like Chrysler and Michelin for safety on ice and snow. They use their multiple tracks near the Houghton County Memorial Airport, but there is currently not much snow on the ground and they are not in use.
Osborne recommends that when you lose control, turn into the skid. Always keep your wheels in the direction you want to go. If you're driving fast, keep your foot on the accelerator.
"You want to steer in the direction that you really want to go, and the other important thing is to look where you really want to go. Don't look at the snow bank that you're heading toward or don't look at a guard rail. Look at the road up ahead of you to where you want to go," said Osborne.
Osborne also recommends using the proper winter tires. He works with the Michigan State Police to crush driving myths and help drivers learn to "drive slow on ice and snow."
Toby Kunnari of the KRC has lost control of his vehicle on ice more than once and has learned some valuable lessons along the way.
"A good thing to do in that situation is whenever you get onto ice, look for traction--the side of the road...whatever is white is going to have more traction that what is ice," said Kunnari.
He says that if you panic, you'll likely end up in the ditch anyway, so try and stay calm.
"Look ahead, think ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to react," Kunnari said.
On Facebook, Cindy Lou Lundquist-Heldmann says, "I've slid sideways down the hill on M-94 coming into Munising and learned the hard way to slow down and never slam on your brakes! Nothing will help you if you're on ice! Go slow and remain alert!"
The KRC offers a winter driving safety course on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the winter season starting in January.