When a car skids, it usually results from one or a few things occurring.
If you are driving too fast for the current road conditions, this can lead to skidding. Suppose you are typically driving 45 MPH on a road that you have driven on for years, and today that road is covered in sleet or ice. What has been common practice for years may no longer be a safe option for you, and you can reduce your speeds to reduce the risk of your car skidding.
What if you brake too hard or lock up the wheels? You may have seen or done this yourself while driving in traffic, and something unexpected occurs. Locking the brakes will likely cause the car to skid and lose control.
Turning the wheels too sharply can also lead to skidding. Cranking the wheels aggressively to one side or the other can place intense pressure on the tires and cause them to skid to keep up with the rapidly turning steering wheel.
Stepping on the gas intensely can also cause the car to skid. When operating at a consistent pace, the vehicle is manufactured to operate safely; when you demand it to speed up quickly by stepping on the gas (similar to stomping on the brakes), it can cause the vehicle to skid.
Why Do Road Conditions Affect Traction?
Just as you feel your feet sometimes slipping out from underneath you on a slippery surface, your tires act as your “feet” while driving.
Due to the process and materials involved in asphalt on the roads, this surface can become slippery directly after it rains. Even in cases where you don’t see standing water on the roadway, the surface can still be slippery and result in your skidding.
Dry sand on tar or concrete can also cause the tires to lose their standard grip and skid out of control. It is best practice to slow down and carefully review what is on the roadway to ensure you are traveling at a safe speed, especially if you are on unfamiliar roads.
Ice can form easily on roads and can quickly cause a skidding risk. You may have heard of “black ice,” which is difficult to detect. Black ice is not black in color but gets its name because it is transparent and difficult to see. Black ice can rapidly form on streets due to glaze ice conditions.
Tips for Slippery Conditions
Learning to navigate during slippery conditions can be difficult if you aren’t an experienced driver. There are some tips and tricks that you can learn to help you.
If you are driving uphill and the roads are slippery, you can drive slowly and steadily and try to keep your speed consistent. If you have access to chains for your tires, this can help tremendously in icy conditions.
If you are driving downhill in slippery conditions, slow your speed before approaching the top of the hill. Break carefully and consistently, and follow the best practices regarding the braking system in your car. If you have antilock brakes, do not pump your brakes as it prevents the antilock system from working properly. It can be helpful to read your manual to determine what type of brakes your vehicle has and how to utilize them best.
Correcting a Rear Wheel Skid
Learning what to expect and ways to help correct a skid can save your life and the lives of those around you.
One of the ways to correct a rear-wheel skid is to stop braking. Releasing the brakes will prevent the tires from skidding further due to the brakes being locked up. As noted above, it is important to understand your car’s brake system and how to use them effectively. It may be that pumping the brakes rather than consistent pressure is best to help you avoid skidding out.
In most cases, it is helpful to steer the car in the direction that you want it to go, even during a skid. Be prepared to slowly change the steering wheel direction as the tires begin to grip and regain control. Jerking the steering wheel may be a natural response, but try to avoid this instinct, so you aren’t over-correcting and causing more skidding to happen.
Correcting a Front-Wheel Skid
If you are operating your vehicle on slippery roads, your front tires may lose traction and begin to skid. If this happens, there are limited things that you can do other than let the car slow down. It is difficult to steer or turn your wheels when the front tires are skidding.
One of the best ways to ensure you don’t encounter a front-wheel skid while driving is to slow down. Learning what road conditions you face and allowing your vehicle extra time to react to what you are instructing is a great way to let your car work as effectively and safely as possible.
The bottom line is there are hundreds of ways for accidents to occur, and avoiding them entirely is impossible. It does help, however, to have some driver safety tips and tricks to help ensure you are doing everything you can to remain safe.
If you have found yourself in an accident and need the help of a trusted and experienced accident attorney, contact our office at (303) 331-6460. We have spent years tirelessly advocating for clients and are familiar with what it takes to protect you and your family. We look forward to serving you.