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Skidding and How to Avoid It

Have you ever experienced a skid when driving? It can be an unnerving experience to suddenly feel that you are losing control over your vehicle, even for just a split second. Skidding can be extremely dangerous and is often the cause of traffic accidents. This article looks at the reasons behind skidding and the steps that you can take in order to avoid skidding.


What Causes a Skid?

A skid is a sudden loss of wheel traction, which can cause your vehicle to lose control and swerve uncontrollably. Skids are usually an outcome of driving at excessive speed for the road you are driving on or the weather conditions you are experiencing.

A skid is usually caused by one of three things: either oversteering, when the driver makes a sharp turn and then attempts to straighten up too quickly; an excessive use of the car’s brakes, causing the vehicle’s wheels to lock up; and from accelerating the car while still in mid-turn.

If you can avoid these driving errors then you should be able to minimise the likelihood of your car skidding regardless of the circumstances.

Turning your Vehicle Too Quickly

It is extremely easy to lose control and skid when performing a turn manoeuvre, especially if your vehicle is travelling at a high speed. The first thing to remember when entering a turn is to slow down and make sure that you approach the turn at the most appropriate speed, braking before you enter the turn.

If your vehicle still loses its grip on the road when turning, to prevent a skid you should apply pressure onto your clutch and turn your steering wheel into the direction of the skid. This may sound counterintuitive, but if you remember to do this it will help you regain control of the vehicle.


Wheels Locking Up

Experiencing a vehicle’s wheels locking up is commonplace during icy and snowy weather conditions. Locking up occurs when the tyres are no longer gripping the road, making braking extremely difficult. If while driving during freezing weather your tyre noise is very quiet, be wary as this is a sign that you are driving on ‘black ice’. Reducing your speed is the best way to reduce the chances of skidding.

It is always important to leave a sensible amount of space between your car and the vehicle in front of yours so that if you are forced to brake suddenly and your wheels do lock-up, you give yourself the chance to correct the problem before running into the back of the vehicle in front.

If your wheels have locked up, whatever you do, try not to brake any harder or accelerate as either of these will make you skid further. Instead concentrate on steering and try to brake slowly and steadily once you feel the car is back in control of the wheels.

Handling Wet Conditions

Drivers often forget that braking distances can double in length if it is raining, massively increasing your chances of skidding. Again, the best way to minimise the likelihood of a skid you should ensure that your speed is appropriate for the road and the conditions. You should usually leave a two second gap between your car and the car in front. In wet weather this gap should be four seconds.

Most drivers will experience a skid at some point, but skidding very rarely happens at low speeds. If you pay attention to your environment and the other vehicles around you, you can help minimise the likelihood of skidding.


Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated October 2015.