One of the most dangerous winter driving hazards is skidding. If it happens at a high speed, the result can be deadly. But most skids can be avoided by simply adjusting to driving conditions and knowing how to recover from a skid.
Skids are most likely to occur on curves and turns, so as a driver, you should slow down ahead of time to prepare for them. Then, when in the curve, you should accelerate slowly and steer steadily with no abrupt change in direction and, especially, no abrupt braking.
Skid Safety Techniques
If you go into a skid, remember these two critical rules:
- Don’t steer against the skid
- Avoid using the brakes
Instead, you should immediately take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction the vehicle is sliding until you feel recovery of traction, then slowly straighten the wheels until you recover complete control. If the back of the vehicle is fishtailing to the right, you should turn the wheel gently in that direction until the car recovers.
If braking is necessary before traction is recovered, you should apply the brake pedal cautiously so you don’t lock the wheels and intensify the skid. You will also have better brake control in a skid situation if the vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes.
You should constantly be on the lookout for areas that might induce skidding, such as unexpected ice patches or piles of wet leaves, which tend to be found in shady areas or on overpasses. You should keep in mind that wet ice, warmed by the sun, is twice as dangerous as completely frozen ice. Remember to be especially alert whenever there is any kind of precipitation during cold weather.
Whenever you are driving in any weather, you should make sure your vehicle is properly equipped. The brakes should be functioning correctly, and the tires should be properly inflated with a good tread surface. Sometimes snow tires, and even chains, may be best to help keep the vehicle under control during dangerous winter conditions.