Avoiding Skidding

A skid happens when one or more tyres lose their grip with the road’s surface. A skid happens on a slippery surface, such as a road that is wet, muddy, and gravelled. It is important to remember that most skidding is a result of bad driving. A car only skids if it is driven at an inappropriate speed or if provoked to do so by aggressive steering, braking, or acceleration. To prevent a skid, you should never task your car to do more than it can do with the grip available. As a result, in poor weather conditions, you should:

  1. Slow down.
  2. Increase your stopping distance, so if the car in front stops unexpectedly, you have enough space to brake to a stop without skidding.
  3. Take extra care when approaching a bend.
  4. Be gentle and progressive when steering, accelerating, and braking.

In wet or muddy conditions, the steering may start to feel lighter. Tyre noise also decreases. To prevent a dangerous skid, lift your foot gently off the accelerator. This will allow your car to slow smoothly and gently. If you want to continue driving, do so slowly using a high gear. This helps you avoid hard acceleration, which spins the wheels.

Accelerating too hard also causes skidding. If you accelerate too hard when moving off on a slippery road, the driven wheels will spin without propelling the car forward. To minimize the spin try engaging a higher gear. Braking hard on a slippery road surface also causes the car to skid.

The wheels can lock up the car will continue onwards with little or no braking effect. The locked wheels will also prevent you from steering. When this happens, you should release the brake pedal to free the wheels and then reapply the brake less harshly. If your car has ABS (Ant-lock Braking System) fitted, then your wheels won’t lock. However, don’t think ABS eases all problems when driving on a slippery road. It doesn’t.

If you approach a corner on a slippery road too quickly there is a great possibility that your car will skid. This is even more likely if you also brake harshly whilst taking the corner. When skidding, turn the steering wheel to corner but there is no response and the car continues on ahead. This is a classic front wheel skid. If this happens, do the following:

  1. Remove your foot from the accelerator. This throws the weight balance of the car forwards and helps the tyres find grip.
  2. Do not use the brake.
  3. As the tyres find grip carefully steer the car into the direction of the skid. For example, if the rear of the car skids to the left, steer quickly and smoothly to the left. This counter balances the car and the net result is a car going directly in a straight path.

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