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Loss of Control
Let’s review what driving experts say about what
happens when the three control systems (brakes, steering
and acceleration) don’t have enough friction where the
tires meet the road to do what the driver has asked.
In any emergency, don’t give up. Keep trying to
steer and constantly seek an escape route or area
of less danger.
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 your vehicle’s
three control systems. In the braking skid, your wheels
aren’t 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.
A cornering skid is best handled by easing your foot off
the accelerator pedal.
If you have the traction control system, remember: It
helps avoid only the acceleration skid.
If you do not have traction control, or if the system is
off, then an acceleration skid is also best handled by
easing your foot off the accelerator pedal.
If your 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, your
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, you’ll
want to 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 engine braking by shifting to a lower
gear). Any sudden changes could cause the tires to slide.
You may not realize the surface is slippery until your
vehicle is skidding. Learn to recognize warning
-- 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 anti
-lock brake system (ABS) helps
avoid only the braking skid.