Winter driving can be challenging, especially when icy roads come into play. It is common for drivers to lose control of their vehicles when they hit an icy patch, leading to a skid. Skidding can be a scary experience and can cause accidents if not handled properly. Knowing how to react when your car skids on ice can save your life and those around you. In this article, we will discuss what to do when your car skids on ice, so you can stay safe on the road.
Understanding The Types of Skids
Before we dive into how to handle a skid, it’s essential to understand the types of skids that can occur on icy roads.
- OVERSTEERING SKID: Also called fishtailing, this type of skid happens when the rear of the car slides sideways, causing the driver to lose control. Oversteering skids usually happen when the driver turns the steering wheel too sharply or too quickly.
- UNDERSTEERING SKID: Also called a push skid, occurs when the front wheels lose grip and the car continues in a straight line despite the driver turning the steering wheel. Understeering skids usually happen when the driver is travelling too quickly for the road conditions or the car’s tyres are worn or underinflated.
How To Handle A Skid
Now that we’ve covered the types of skids, let’s discuss what to do when it happens to you.
- STAY CALM: The first thing to do is to remain calm. Do not panic, as this will only worsen the situation. Take a deep breath and focus on what you need to do next.
- LIFT OFF ACCELERATION: When you feel the car skidding, take your foot off the accelerator. This will reduce the speed and give you more time to react.
- TURN INTO THE SKID: If you’re experiencing an oversteering skid, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid. This will help the rear of the car to align with the front wheels and allow you to regain control. For understeering skids, turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the skid to help the front wheels regain traction.
- AVOID BRAKING: Avoid braking during a skid, as this can cause the wheels to lock up and worsen the skid. If you need to slow down, apply gentle and steady pressure to the brake pedal.
- REGAIN CONTROL: Once you have turned into the skid, wait for the car to regain traction and control before accelerating again. This may take a few seconds, so be patient.
Tips To Avoid Skidding
Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to avoid skidding on icy roads:
- DRIVE SLOWLY: Slow down when driving on icy roads. This will give you more time to react and allow you to maintain better control.
- MAINTAIN DISTANCE: Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. This will give you more time to react if the car in front of you skids.
- USE WINTER TYRES: Winter tyres provide better grip on icy roads than regular tyres. Consider changing your tyres during the winter months.
- AVOID SUDDEN MOVEMENTS: Avoid sudden movements, such as sharp turns or sudden braking, as they can cause skids.
What Not To Do When Your Car Skids
Knowing what not to do when your car skids is just as important as knowing what to do. Here’s what you should avoid:
- DO NOT PANIC: Panicking can cause you to overreact and worsen the situation.
- DO NOT BRAKE SUDDENLY: Braking suddenly can cause the wheels to lock up and worsen the skid.
- DO NOT ACCELERATE: Accelerating during a skid can cause the car to spin out of control.
Driving on icy roads can be challenging, but knowing how to handle a skid can make all the difference. Remember to stay calm, lift off the acceleration, and turn into the skid. Avoid braking suddenly and wait for the car to regain control before accelerating again. By following these tips, you can stay safe on the road this winter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can skids be avoided entirely when driving on icy roads?
- Skids can be avoided by driving slowly, maintaining distance, and avoiding sudden movements. However, skids may still occur, so it’s important to know how to react.
How can I tell if my car is about to skid?
- You may feel the car sliding, hear a sudden change in tyre noise, or notice the steering wheel becoming loose or unresponsive.
Can I use anti-lock brakes (ABS) during a skid?
- ABS is designed to prevent the wheels from locking up during sudden braking. It may help during a skid, but it’s best to avoid sudden braking altogether.
Are winter tyres necessary for driving on icy roads?
- Winter tyres provide better grip and control on icy roads than regular tyres. Consider changing your tyres during the winter months.
What should I do if I am unable to regain control of my car during a skid?
- Move your foot off the brake and accelerator pedals and steer in the intended direction. If you’re unable to regain control, try to steer the car towards an open area or empty road and gradually slow down.