Rule No. 1 for driving in snow and ice is simple: Drive more slowly.
Other tips include keeping a greater distance from the car ahead, start slowing sooner for stops and turns, check traction periodically by tapping the brakes, and stay aware of conditions outside the car.
Is the temperature falling? Are conditions right for moisture in the air to condense and freeze on road surfaces, forming black ice that is slick but nearly invisible?
A car traveling 55 mph covers 81 feet per second. Distance between vehicles should double in marginal conditions, from one car length for every 10 mph of speed to two or three car lengths depending on just how bad conditions are. For example, on snow and ice, cars traveling 40 mph should be eight-to-12 car lengths apart.
If a car starts to slide when the brakes are applied, stop braking immediately, and apply the brakes again, but more slowly.
Steer into skids - which means if your car is sliding to the right, turn the wheel to the right until you have control, then gently steer back onto the road. Often there's time to pull off this maneuver; sometimes there isn't.
Nobody is born knowing how to drive, and this goes double for driving in slippery conditions. Safe driving on snow and ice is learned only through practice, and it's often best to practice on a real driving course where the consequences of a slide are not dire. Next best place to practice starting, turning, and stopping on snow? A large parking lot, empty of other vehicles.
NPR's Car Talk hosts, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, say, "Even with good coolant, snow tires, stability control, all-wheel drive, and the bag of Doritos in the trunk, keep in mind that driving in snow, sleet, and ice is very treacherous. And even if you maintain control of your car, not everyone else will. So don't ever get lulled into a false sense of security. Do everything slowly and gently."