I was trying to drive up an icy hill with a front-wheel-drive car (2006 Honda Civic Hybrid) when the front tires lost traction and the car started to slide backwards. The car then easily spun sideways as it slid backwards making it veer left/right and I nearly hit a telephone pole.
I repeated this a few times hoping to get up the hill. It seemed like I had much better control of the car during the backwards slide if I shifted the car into reverse (instead of drive) the moment I lost traction. In reverse, it didn't seem like the car would spin sideways. In these "Reverse vs Drive Experiments", I think I was sliding backwards at about the same speed (just "riding the brake" and not touching the accelerator pedal), but the reverse mode still seemed much more effective at keeping my car straight (while drive mode seemed to cause a spin-out with more random left/right motion).
My conclusion is that I am much safer changing to reverse mode if I start sliding backwards. Is this expected?