Slick roads are deemed hazardous road conditions for many reasons. Slippery and slick road conditions can cause accidents and injuries regardless of how careful of a driver you are. Let’s discuss the proper protocol for driving on slick road conditions.

What Causes Slick Road Conditions?

Different factors contribute to slick road conditions. However, when you think of slick roads, snow and ice may be the first things that come to mind. Here are other factors that can contribute to slick road conditions.


Pavement is the most slippery during the first few minutes of rainfall. If pavement has been dry for a while, roads can become slick when it rains because of the combination of water and the accumulation of oil and debris on the road’s surface.

Oil and Debris

Over time, millions of cars are on the road, leaving behind oil and debris, such as dirt and dust. When it rains, the mixture of dirt, dust, and oil creates a slick surface and can worsen with light rain. Wet leaves can also be considered debris and cause roads to become slick after it rains.

Ice Patches

When it snows, you can expect to see ice patches as the snow melts. Ice can fall from the sky, known as hail, or it can form when snow melts and refreezes. Ice can also form on wet leaves and create extremely slippery road conditions. When ice is a factor, your vehicle can easily lose traction, increasing the risk of an accident.

Standing Water

Standing water can also be a culprit of slick road conditions. Heavy rainfall can cause water to pool and create standing water on roads. This standing water can lead to hydroplaning, which occurs when a layer of water accumulates between your vehicle’s tires and the road’s surface. When your vehicle hydroplanes, it loses traction with the road and you can easily lose control of your vehicle.

Why Are Slick Road Conditions Dangerous?

Slick road conditions are dangerous because of the increased risk of accidents. Reduced traction and hydroplaning are the primary concerns for slippery road conditions. Oil buildup can also become a problem. When roads are wet, they are more slippery when oil and debris build-up occurs.

Heavy rains or an accumulation of rain can cause pools of water to form on the road, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Due to the condition of the roads after heavy rainfall, wet pavement reduces the contract your vehicle’s tires have with the road, known as traction. A lack of traction can lead to accidents.

Poor visibility can quickly become a problem during heavy rains. During heavy rains, visibility decreases, which makes it harder for you to react to sudden changes in road conditions.

The Importance of Car Maintenance in Unfavorable Driving Conditions

Your vehicle should be maintained regularly, especially during the winter months. Regular car maintenance is essential for your vehicle’s performance, longevity, and safety.

Checking and Changing Fluids

Make sure you’re regularly changing your vehicle’s oil, transmission fluid, and coolant. Changing a car’s oil is essential for optimal performance. You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Mechanics will recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. You can check your car’s oil using a dipstick.

Your car needs transmission fluid to ensure you can smoothly shift gears and it prevents wear and tear on the transmission’s components. The car’s owner’s manual will tell you the recommended replacement intervals for transmission fluid.

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, helps regulate an engine’s temperature and prevents your vehicle from overheating. Check your car’s coolant levels often and inspect it for any signs of degradation or contamination.

Tire Maintenance

Make sure you’re regularly checking tire pressure and have the tires rotated. Proper tire pressure is essential for fuel efficiency, handling, and tire longevity. You should check the tire pressure at least once a month and before embarking on long road trips using a tire pressure gauge.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires is important for ensuring the tires wear evenly. When tires wear evenly, you get more life from the tires because it extends the life of the tires and helps maintain balance and handling.


Regular vehicle maintenance reduces the risk of unexpected and expensive repairs and breakdowns. This type of maintenance also enhances your safety while traveling on the road.

Be Aware of Black Ice

During the winter, roads can be slick because of fresh, wet pavement, but other culprits can include snow and ice. Black ice is different from standard road ice because black ice is a lot more difficult to see, especially at night.

However, if you’re driving in snowy and icy weather, look out for shiny black patches, as this could be black ice. If you drive over black ice, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle, which can lead to an accident.

How to Drive on Slick Roads and Tips to Stay Safe

Driving on slick roads is much different than cruising down the highway when the sun is out and the pavement is dry. Use these tips to help you stay safe while driving on slick pavement.

Drive Slowly

One of the most important rules of driving on slick roads is to drive slowly. There’s no need to be a speed racer! When roads are slick, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle and have an auto accident. It’s also more difficult to maintain control of your vehicle on slick roads, so slow down!

Check Your Vehicle

Ensure your headlights, windshield wipers, and turn signals are functioning properly. As a driver, you want to make sure your vehicle remains visible at all times. When other drivers can see you, they can navigate the road safely.

Avoid Using Cruise Control

When the roads are slick, don’t use cruise control. Cruise control is great to use when you’re going on a long trip, but it’s a hazard on slick roads. If you have cruise control activated during slick road conditions, it will be harder to maintain control of your vehicle if your vehicle loses traction.

Maintain a Safe Following Distance

You should extend the amount of space between you and the vehicle in front of you, especially when there are slick road conditions. Generally speaking, experts suggest you follow the 3-second rule when driving. However, when the roads are slick, you should put more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to ensure you can react appropriately to unforeseen issues and emergencies. Keep in mind that slippery road conditions require more space so drivers can brake properly and react to other situations on the road.

Never Accelerate Quickly

You should never accelerate quickly when the roads are slippery. Even if you are driving below the posted speed limit, accelerating quickly can cause the vehicle to skid and lose traction. Once a vehicle loses traction with the road, it’s almost guaranteed that you will lose control of your vehicle.

Learn Skidding Meaneuvers

If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, you need to know what to do to safely regain control of your vehicle. First, remove your foot from the accelerator and avoid braking. If you were braking, slowly remove your foot from the brake. If your car has a manual transmission, disengage the clutch. Now you need to turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to go. You can also counter-steer. Once your vehicle is moving in the direction you want, adjust your steering to prevent future skidding.

The best thing to do is avoid driving on slick roads by staying home. If this is not possible, you must proceed with caution and stay alert. Don’t speed! Use the tips above to help you stay safe. Happy driving!