Steer clear of skid row

Posted on April 25th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

blogWhat do drivers fear the most? Being tailgated? Being the victim of a road rage attack? Driving at night? Driving on an unfamiliar motorway? They’re all perfectly valid worries for some of us. But something we all share is the fear of losing control of the car we’re driving and not being able to do anything about it. Central to that loss of control is… the skid.

Skidding occurs in all kinds of road collision.  The wheels lock, the tyres lose traction on the road surface and – as driver – you have no control over where you go or what you hit. One route to cutting crashes would be to add skid prevention technology to far more cars.…and we’ll come onto that shortly, but first, let’s find out what causes us to skid, and what sort of skids there are.

What happens in a skid?

A skid may happen when one or more tires lose their grip with the road’s surface. Skids most often happen on a slippery surface, such as a road that is wet, icy or covered with snow, gravel or some other loose material.

Why do skids happen?

Most skids result from driving too fast for road conditions. Hard braking and overly-aggressive turning or accelerating can cause your vehicle to skid and possibly go out of control.

How easy is it to recognise the early signs of a possible skid?

If your vehicle begins to skid, try not to panic – it is possible to maintain control of your vehicle, even in a skid. Ease off on the accelerator or brake and on a very slippery surface slip the transmission into neutral if you can. Continue to steer in the direction you wish to go. Be careful not to oversteer. Once you regain control you can brake as needed, but very gently and smoothly.

Sensing a possible skid is the most important thing. You’ll feel understeer initially through the steering wheel, which becomes lighter and less resistant or responsive.

Oversteer, on the other hand, is felt through to back of the seat, and it is therefore vital that you sit tight into the seat.

Use the left foot over the footrest to brace yourself coming into corners so you are more aware of this sensation. When a skid is detected, immediately and quickly react, don’t hesitate or wait.

GEM has published a short video on skid control.