I have to wonder if ABS is the culprit here. I have read that in really slippery conditions, it takes much longer to stop a car with ABS.
Notice how the 3rd car that was facing straight down the hill accelerated much faster than the Prius (?) that was going down the hill sideways? I'd assume that both drivers were standing on the brake pedal...
I've found the same. ABS can help steer in relatively low-traction conditions, but not a skating rink! Freaking out can only hurt.
None of the vehicles did this: put the car in neutral and coast as slow as possible with light brake modulation. Lots of people in that video were standing on the brakes and steering. Wheels need to roll to turn a car, even on ice. Maybe if they just coasted down the hill with light inputs to steering, brakes, and even some throttle at times might have gotten them out?
But yeah, I wouldn't be standing out in the street slipping around, just to be run over when I fall on my arse.
I have driven in conditions like this and it is really scary.
It is a very highly over rated capability, which effectively is largely imposed on people because of Big Brother, far more so than because it's a safety asset.
My biggest fault with ABS is the myth that is perpetuated by people that you can stop quicker. Pure baloney. The only thing ABS might do is in very specific circumstances, keep someone from totally locking up the wheels and losing control, in exchange for possibly having some directional control but not being able to stop the car in as short a distance.
You may be able to drive (sreering, brakes, gas) in ice or mud without the "benefit" of ABS...I know I can (most times!)! But you've got to consider ...the car cos. must build for the masses, and the masses ain't too smart! ABS is great! How else can you predict when a tire will change from static to kinetic friction? On which corner? For how long? My point is : IF you ever find yourself in a bad situation (black ice at night, a puddle to hydroplane in...), ABS "might" save your but squared! Just might!
That had to be smooth ice under that snow and no sanding - they sand like crazy around here - so much so that your car gets sand blasted when going fast over it taking off the undercoating and chipping paint off the undersides. I even got hit in the windshield by the freeking sanding trucks when their spreaders are set too high. You know that was solid ice when the car slides down the street sideways and gains speed. Yup no braking and a little engine braking or even just coasting in neutral is the only way down a street like that. Even using the emergency brake on the rear wheels and steering with the fronts could have worked. That Video was on Jay Leno last night.
Our TDI has what’s called ESP, which is a form of traction control, throttle control (the TDI is throttle by wire) and ABS all in one. I had never had a car with this before so I went to a parking lot and played with it when we first got it. I found on dry pavement it would stop from 40 mph about 10 feet sooner locked up with the ABS, with ABS off it I slid 10 feet further. I did the same test on a snowy area and it stopped about 40 feet sooner using ABS than a straight lock up and you could still steer if you needed to.
The ESP part is really cool; it can break just one wheel to keep you going in the direction you want. You have to understand what ABS or ESP can and can't do and how it will effect what you’re trying to do. For instance our driveway is a 25 degree incline and if I leave the ESP on I can't drive up the driveway if it is snow covered because the ESP will slow the engine to avoid wheel slip and then I loose too much speed to make it up. If I turn off ESP I can get a running start and make it, but I do often start to side slide and have to counter steer as I go up to avoid sliding off the edge.
As Ted said, I think it does more good then harm for the general population, but in some cases it can be worse then not. Fortunately I can turn mine on and off with the flick of a switch. I think it’s all about knowing what your car can and can’t do.
I also can’t emphasize enough what a difference good snow / ice tires can do. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven past 4 wheel drive SUV’s stuck in the snow smiling and waving as I drive by with them shouting I am gong to get stuck. On another hill near our house I often just drive up and watch the SUV’s fall behind and have to turn around and take the long way It is the one time I am willing to give up a bit of mileage for traction. Nokian Hakka Q’s all the way
ABS is an accident saver, especially when driving an unfamiliar car in inclimate weather . Some ABS systems are not as good as others. Also consider the brakes are only as good as the tires under them.
I believe most ABS systems do not function under 6 mph. The subaru wagon I believe was driven down the hill. Halfway down you could see he was giving the car full right steering lock but he was on the wrong side of the road crown.
02 Saturn SL
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Brock- The TSX has ESP with the exact same throttle by wire and ABS - yaw interpretation setup. I tried one day to lose control on ice/snow and it corrected every time.
Last night in heavy snow, the system was overwhelmed by limited traction in very heavy snow. I think my actions may have saved the situation even though it was ABS'ing like crazy. It required accelerating out of the skid, which was hindered by the fuel cut. I changed lanes, hit that slush in the middle and lost the back end (at about 40 mph on the interstate). Luckily it was saved by steering inputs and accelerating -- 2 things it doesn't do. There's no replacement for cautious driving and knowing what do to.