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Skidding and how to avoid it

Skidding occurs when your car loses traction on the road. This is a dangerous situation to be in for any driver, your car becomes difficult to control and you can end up either running into the back of the vehicle in front or skidding out of your lane and into the path of oncoming traffic.

Why skids happen

A skid can occur for a variety of reasons, but it is often down to poor driving technique. Many people still drive too fast and too close to the vehicle in front of them, this means that they don't have sufficient space to slow down safely in an emergency.

Avoid turning too quickly. If your vehicle is travelling at high speed and you turn too quickly, the back end of your vehicle can swing out into a skid. Always enter a corner at an appropriate speed and brake if necessary before doing so. If this type of skid occurs, it is possible to recover control by applying pressure to the clutch and then turning the steering wheel 'into' the direction of the skid.

Weather conditions also play a significant part in determining how quickly you can stop. In good dry weather you should allow at least a gap of 2 seconds or more between you and the car in front. This should give you plenty of time to slow down in a safe controlled manner if the car in front suddenly applies their brakes.

In wet weather the chances of skidding increase dramatically. Traction is reduced on wet surfaces and you should reduce your speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front accordingly.

In cold icy conditions the same logic applies. Even if a road has been treated with salt and grit it is still possible that there may be patches of 'black ice' which have been missed by the gritting lorry. All manoeuvres need to be taken more slowly and smoothly in icy conditions, sudden changes in direction or bursts of speed can easily cause you to lose traction.

Keep your tyres in good condition

Even in good weather conditions a worn set of tyres will reduce your traction and increase your chances of skidding.

In wet weather worn tyres are even more dangerous. Tyres are designed to displace water on a wet road, giving you more grip. Worn tyres not only offer less grip because of the lack of tread but they will also fail to displace the water too, making them doubly dangerous.

Always keep your tyres well above the legal limit of 1.6mm. At 1.6mm in wet weather it takes an extra car length (8 metres) to stop at 50 mph than if your tread was 3mm.

Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS)

When buying a new car it is a good idea to look out for this safety feature on a vehicle. ABS is a system that automatically 'pumps' the vehicles brakes when the brakes are applied heavily. Although ABS will not prevent a skid in all situations it does provide significant protection from skidding when you need to slow down quickly.

If you have been involved in a road accident, just give us a call on 0845 6768898 for free help and advice or start your free claim enquiry using our online claim form.

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