on a straight stretch of road, check the rearview mirror and, if it’s clear, hit the brakes firmly, until the wheels lock up. this will tell you how much traction you have to play with. anti-lock brake systems are great, but they can’t perform miracles. if it’s slippery enough, you will slide when you brake hard, no matter what type of brakes you have. abs is not a ticket to speed.

4: light up
it’s always wise to have your headlights on while driving, especially in winter’s typical snowy, low-light conditions. just don’t forget to turn them off when you park.

5: tread heavily
almost all new cars are equipped with all-season tires, which are a serious compromise for winter driving. invest in a high-quality set of winter tires, which can increase traction as much as 50 percent, and put ’em on when the weather starts to turn. remember they’ll help you stop, as well as go.

can’t get enough of the slippery stuff? check out the bridgestone winter driving school. it’s the only dedicated winter driving school in the u.s., and has built a twisting, turning, mile-long ice track, which is coated with 80,000 gallons of water, for your sliding, er, driving pleasure. call (800) 949-7543 or log on to www.winterdrive.com. —