1. LOSE THE CELL PHONE
Drive on Ice
Keep your hands at ten and two o'clock, just like you learned in driver's ed. The position makes it easy to know when your wheels are straight, which is critical in slick conditions.
2. ANTICIPATE TROUBLE
What to look out for: Darker spots in the road are always more dangerous than lighter areas—black ice lingers in shade.
3. DON'T OVERREACT
If your back end kicks out and starts to slide, stay off the brakes and regain traction by turning into the slide. Sound easy? Even people who know this basic rule end up in the ditch when they overreact—with brake or accelerator—once traction returns. Use a light touch.
4. DECELERATE SLOWLY
"Cover the brakes," as they say, but use them only when necessary. In a vehicle without antilock brakes, apply varying amounts of steady pressure (if brakes start to lock, ease up, then apply more). Downshift to dump speed if you're driving a standard transmission.
5. CORNER CORRECTLY
As a general rule, enter a turn at about half the posted speed; even less in poor conditions. Don't accelerate until you're past the corner's apex and leaving the turn.
6. GET OUT OF THE GROOVE
Packed-down tire tracks can be the slickest part of a snow-covered road. At slower speeds—say, if your tires start spinning while you're heading uphill—look for better traction in the looser stuff off to the side.
7. BUY THE RIGHT TIRES
If you drive in snowy conditions more than once a week, switch seasonally to dedicated winter tires, which have dramatically better grip than the "all-weather" variety. And go a size smaller: A narrower tire cuts through snow better and provides more pressure per square inch—and thus better traction. Our pick: Nokian Hakkapeliitta RSi (from $79 per tire; nokianrsi.com).
8. DON'T GET COCKY
Vehicles with AWD or 4WD are great for increased traction, but they often cause false confidence—which can bite you in the ass when it's time to turn or stop.
Tips from Vermont-based JOHN BUFFUM, who has won a world-record 117 rally-car races, many of which were held on snow-covered courses.