With winter weather now in full swing, skidding tends to be a popular fear for many drivers on the road. Black ice, snow, and freezing rain can turn a normally safe road into a slippery trap, but many accidents are caused by driver’s errors and reaction under stress. In the moment, it can be tough to remember how to get out of a skid, but knowing these simple techniques will help you stay cool under pressure and avoid damaging the car.
The best way to control a slip is to avoid having one in the first place.
1. Make sure you have good tires. Tires are what give you traction on the road. You should periodically check your tires and ensure that they are in decent condition to avoiding slipping and sliding. For more information, check out this article on tire safety.
2. Choose the speed based on the current weather conditions, not the speed limit. Driving at the speed limit can be dangerous in bad weather.
3. Be attentive while moving on wet or icy roads. Minimize distractions, like your phone or radio, and keep both hands on the wheel in case you have to make a split second reaction.
4. When approaching a turn or rounding a bend, give yourself time to decrease the speed- it will help you keep better control.
5. Never slam on the brakes. Give yourself 8-10 extra seconds of following distance, and be aware of upcoming turns or stops.
If you do get stuck in a skid, don’t panic. Remain calm and follow these steps to get out of it:
For Straight-Line Skids
In straight-line skids, the whole car drifts to one side. First, take off your foot off the accelerator. Once you feel the drifting stops and the tires have regained traction, slowly and gradually move back to the center of the road lane. If the drifting continues even when you take your foot off the accelerator you can tap the brake lightly.
For Fishtail Skids
If it’s a sideways skid, only rear end of the car drifts to one side and the front points straight ahead. Some experts call it “fishtailing.” For most drivers correcting a fishtail sounds complicated but the instructions are pretty simple to perform. The most important thing to remember is to turn the wheel slowly into the fishtail. If you’re fishtailing to the left side, steer left; if you’re fishtailing toward the right side, steer right. Once you start to feel your car straightening out, slowly straighten out the steering wheel.
This technique straightens the rear end and keeps the vehicle heading straight. The earlier you can catch the fishtail the better, as less correction will be needed.
If you turn the wheel too far to the left or right, the rear end of the car will fishtail into another direction. If that happens, don’t panic- simply repeat this technique in another direction until the drifting stops.
Not matter which skid you’re correcting, you should never slam on the brakes as this could send the car into a tailspin. Slightly pump the brakes and slowly decrease the speed while you try to regain control of your car.
At V&F Auto, we strive to provide our customers a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive. Using these techniques will help you to prevent skidding and keep control of the car. And, if something does go wrong, remember that it’s vitally important to remain calm. If your car needs maintenance or repair this winter season, call us at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.