It’s icy. You’re driving. You skid. Now what?

(KOIN Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A parking lot at Portland International Raceway was an icy winter wonderland on Wednesday — on purpose.

Todd Harris with turned the lot into an icy course to demonstrate the best ways drivers should deal with icy conditions and skidding.

Travelers in this area can quickly encounter real winter conditions in the passes, and even 4-wheel drive doesn’t always promise anything.

“What 4-wheel drive does for you, it gets you going. You’ve got 4 contact patches and allows the vehicle to get moving,” Harris told KOIN 6 News. “What it doesn’t do is help slow you down or corner. And that’s when a 4-wheel drive becomes a 4-wheel skid.”

A front wheel skid is the most common, he said. The number one thing to remember is to look where you want the car to go.

“If the front tires are skidding, stop accelerating,” Harris explained.

He said it’s OK if a driver needs to “squeeze just a little bit of brake,” but the rear wheel skid can be the most frightening.

“With a rear wheel skid, the car starts to slide and lose traction on the back tires,” he said. In this skid, hitting the brake can have you spinning. Harris said a driver will naturally counter-steer in a rear-wheel skid.

Again, look in the direction you want to go — and stay off the brake.

Safe winter driving means slowing down, leaving plenty of room and using your car’s controls smoothly.

“The slicker the road condition, the less white knuckling on the wheel,” he said. “You just want to move the wheel and glide.”

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