Dear Car Coach: We just had some really snowy days. The plows weren’t out early enough and then everyone was driving so slow. Please remind drivers how to drive on snow.

– A.M.

Dear A.M.: I have experienced the same frustration with super slow drivers, but slowly down to some degree is wise. This time of year you never know when to expect black ice, heavy snow, icy roads or a mixture of road conditions.

So what do you do if you find yourself driving sideways? Do you remember what you learned in driver’s ed?

Here are a few simple steps to help keep you on the road and less stressed.

Loss of vehicle traction over slippery conditions, or for whatever reason, is always dealt with in the same manner. The object is to maintain your original path by looking where you want your vehicle to stop, and resisting the natural urge to look at trees and other objects you don’t want to strike, including pedestrians.

Step 1: Understand that the process for recovering from a skid is the same for cars with front- or rear-wheel drive.

Step 2: Maintain eye contact with a safe area where you want your vehicle to go.

Step 3: Take your foot off both the gas and brake pedals immediately.

Step 4: Turn smoothly into the direction you want the car to go. Then slowly add the gas to stay on the path.

Do not slam on the brakes. Locked, sliding tires have no directional control.

For stopping suddenly: Vehicles with ABS (anti-lock braking system) can, in most situations, step lightly and keep constant pressure on the brake pedal. You will feel a pulsation under your foot. That’s the ABS doing its job.

The key to driving in icy conditions is to move slowly and brake gently.

Step 1: Use the defroster and windshield wipers for better visibility.

Step 2: Brakes are not your friend – the gas pedal will help you get out of a skid and stay on the road.

Step 3: Give sufficient warning time to other drivers when turning, stopping or changing lanes.

Step 4: Keep plenty of distance between cars, two to three car lengths’ distance between cars at the minimum. You never know when you will hit an icy spot.

Step 5: If you do skid, turn the wheels into the direction of the skid and slowly add the gas.

Step 6: Keep in mind that melting ice is still slippery. Drive slower so that your tires can push water through their grooves for better traction.

Tips and warnings

• Four-wheel-drive cars maneuver better on snow, but that doesn’t mean they can stop quickly. Leave plenty of distance between you and other cars. If you pass the same landmark as the car in front of you within 10 seconds, you are following too closely.

• Avoid cruise control when driving on ice.

It can also be helpful to practice these techniques in an empty lot so you will be prepared if you experience loss of traction.


Dear Car Coach: Yesterday I was at the DMV to renew my driver’s license and the person in front of me couldn’t read the last line on the vision chart. The person working at the DMV gave them three chances and they barely made it. What are the state rules?

– D.L.

Dear D.L.: New York State is requiring a vision test as it did in the past. Here is what it says on the state application in part:

All drivers must take a vision test when they renew their driver’s licenses. You can take the vision test by two methods:

An eye-care professional must conduct your vision test, and complete form MV-619 or form MV-619R. The form MV-619R is included with your driver’s license renewal notice. If the form MV-619 or form MV-619R has a print date of 9/03 or earlier, the form is valid for six months after the date of the eye test. If the form has a print date of 3/04 or later, the eye-care professional marks a box on the form to indicate if the form is valid for six months or for 12 months after the date of the eye test.

An eye-care professional in another state or country can complete form MV-619 or form MV-619R. The form or letter must indicate that you passed a vision test for a visual acuity of 20/40 (or better) on the Snellen Visual Acuity Scale.