We’ve all seen the phenomena of the first season’s snow-fall and cars spinning wildly into the ditch; it’s as though the previous seven months of warmer weather completely erased any memory of how to best drive in slippery conditions.
What “controls” do you have?
- Gas (throttle)
By using only one control at a time you dramatically improve the effectiveness of your tires! Why you ask? Because a tire only has so much grip (determined by a number of different tire properties), and once you exceed the maximum grip level that can be achieved given the road you’re driving on that instant, the sliding (skidding) tire now has much less grip. If you’re using 100% of the tire’s grip for braking, how much grip remains for turning? Zero! That’s the beauty of Separation of Controls, it helps you from CREATING SKIDS! The majority of skids that you will experience in your driving life will be created by you!
The Separation of Controls Technique
1. When braking, don’t steer
2. When steering, don’t brake or accelerate (except for “maintenance throttle”, very light pressure on the gas pedal to overcome drive-line friction)
3. When accelerating, don’t steer
By following the above recommendations, you will find your driving performance improve greatly in the snow with less chances of sliding or skidding.
As you refine this new technique you’ll notice that when cornering, as you begin to transition from the turn to the straight road you can begin to add more throttle in direct proportion to moving the steering wheel toward pointing straight ahead. Also as you practice you may find you can continue to hold very light brake pressure as you first begin turning the steering wheel from straight ahead to turning into the beginning of the corner. You’ll see you’re developing a direct connection between hands turning the steering wheel and feet applying pressure to pedals:
- More steering, less pedal (brake or throttle)
- More pedal, less steering
Finally, make good choices on where you drive! A pro racer’s focus is the search for best grip from the tarmac; the focus when driving in snow is the same! Why drive on the shiny black stuff when there’s fluffy white stuff only six inches away? Test the surface condition regularly using conservative brake