Loss of Control

Let us review what driving experts say about what happens when the three control systems —brakes, steering, and acceleration — do not have enough friction where the tires meet the road to do what the driver has asked.

In any emergency, do not give up. Keep trying to steer and constantly seek an escape route or area of less danger.

Skidding

In a skid, a driver can lose control of the vehicle.

Defensive drivers avoid most skids by taking reasonable care suited to existing conditions, and by not overdriving those conditions. But skids are always possible.

The three types of skids correspond to the vehicle’s three control systems. In the braking skid, the wheels are not rolling. In the steering or cornering skid, too much speed or steering in a curve causes tires to slip and lose cornering force. And in the acceleration skid, too much throttle causes the driving wheels to spin.

Remember: Any traction control system helps avoid only the acceleration skid. If the traction control system is off, then an acceleration skid is best handled by easing your foot off the accelerator pedal.

If the vehicle starts to slide, ease your foot off the accelerator pedal and quickly steer the way you want the vehicle to go. If you start steering quickly enough, the vehicle may straighten out. Always be ready for a second skid if it occurs.

Of course, traction is reduced when water, snow, ice, gravel, or other material is on the road. For safety, slow down and adjust your driving to these conditions. It is important to slow down on slippery surfaces because stopping distance will be longer and vehicle control more limited.

While driving on a surface with reduced traction, try your best to avoid sudden steering, acceleration, or braking, including reducing vehicle speed by shifting to a lower gear. Any sudden changes could cause the tires to slide. You may not realize the surface is slippery until the vehicle is skidding. Learn to recognize warning clues — such as enough water, ice, or packed snow on the road to make a mirrored surface — and slow down when you have any doubt.

Remember: Any Antilock Brake System (ABS) helps avoid only the braking skid.

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