You shouldn't be driving right now, but if you must: Here's how to drive on Austin's icy roads

Roberto Villalpando
Austin American-Statesman

Austin drivers don't have to deal with icy roads all that often, but the recent wet and now freezing weather means we need a crash course in icy driving. 

Rule 1: Stay off the road 

Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Brad Wheelis said people should stay off the roads if they can.

"Treat every road as though it has ice on it. That's the best piece of advice I can give," he said.

But if you have to be on an icy road ...

Rule 2: Drive slowly and cautiously

You would go slow if you were walking on ice, right? Then make sure you go as slow as necessary to maintain control of the car.

As a guide, try driving at half the posted speed limit or lower to be safe.

Rule 3: Don't tailgate

Leave enough room between your car and the car ahead to allow you to stop when the tires can't get traction.

Even on dry pavement, you need more stopping distance the faster you go. Ice reduces friction on your tires, which means you will need even more stopping distance. 

Try to remain as many as 20 car lengths behind the car ahead.

Surviving icy weather

Rule 4: Pump the brake gently

Don't stomp on the brake — that will lock the wheels and allow the car to skid.

Rule 5: Don't panic if you skid

You've probably heard the adage that advises you to turn in the direction of the skid, but you won't remember that if you panic. Don't forget: Turn in the direction the car is skidding.

Rule 6: Watch your acceleration

Avoid accelerating on bridges, icy patches or curves. Try to coast or glide over bridges and icy areas. Maintain a steady speed on curves, don't accelerate.

Get some momentum before you start up a hill, and avoid accelerating on the way up because it can cause your wheels to spin.

Rule 7: Be prepared

Keep plenty of gas in the tank, keep your cell phone charged, keep a bottle of water and carry an extra blanket in the vehicle in case you become stranded.