There are various times, throughout the year, that drivers need to be careful about the risk of skidding. A car skid can occur in numerous conditions, not just during the Autumn and Winter seasons.
Car skidding occurs when the forces that affect the tyres are stronger than the grip of the tyres on the road surface. The grip itself is influenced by numerous factors, including the road condition, the condition of the tyres, the state of the vehicle and, of course, the driver.
Often, people hear about a car slipping and leading into a car accident, but this is not always entirely true. In fact, if you look into what is the most common cause of skidding, the driver can often be held accountable. This is because we, as drivers, are often threatened with phenomenon that we are not otherwise taught how to cope with. Many drivers aren’t able to regain control after a skid, which can lead to numerous accidents. Instead of being stressed out and worrying about car skids, it is better to learn how to avoid such skids in the first place.
The basic method to avoid skidding is to adapt your driving technique to the prevailing conditions..
What is a skid?
Before we begin, it is important to define skid events and determine what are skids. To define skidding in short, it is when a vehicle slides or turns as a result of stopping too quickly. Sometimes, this can also be caused by accelerating too quickly. This often occurs on corners and turns, but a skidding car can also occur on straight lines. Sometimes, this can result in other driving phenomena, such as fishtailing, which is often the result of a driver’s attempt at to skid steer and control over the skid car.
Although ice is often the main cause for a skidded car, it is not the only one. Aside from a car skidding on ice, wet roads and other slippery surfaces can all cause the same effect.
How to reduce the risk of skids?
Some of the most important factors, when it comes to avoiding a skid, are the driver’s skills and his or her imagination. It is far easier, as well as safer, to avoid skidding entirely, rather than trying to overcome it or improve your skid control. With this in mind, it also helps to properly align your imagination and skills with knowledge regarding the capabilities of your car, including your choice of car tyres.
If you are aware that a road surface is slippery, then you should assert due caution. Try assessing, analysing and anticipating the situation on the road is a calm manner. This is something worth paying attention to as both the weather and the seasons change, so you can get a reliable idea of what the road surfaces may become.
Common changes in weather that you should watch out for include:
The very first signs of snowfall
A buildup of slush on the road
A sudden rainstorm, especially after a long period of low humidity
Every change in weather requires an appropriate adjustment from your driving style, but these particular examples highlight when you should anticipate the road to become more slippery, thus creating a greater chance of a skidding car.
This can be a problem for even the most experienced drivers, if they choose to ignore the change in weather and road conditions. Sometimes it can take tens of miles or more to get use to new conditions and apply appropriate reactions and techniques. In this time, it is important to drive carefully and
Car tyres have a significant influence on safety so they have to be in a good condition.
Skidding and your driving technique
If you want to reduce the risk of skidding, it is advisable to adapt your driving style, applying a few rules:
Rather than stopping abruptly, you should slow the car down gradually. Preferably, this should be done using motor braking (allowing the car to slow down naturally) as, this way, there will be no need for sudden braking and eventually there will be no slipping.
If your car does not have ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) you should pulse-brake, as this will help prevent a locked wheel skid. In an emergency situation, after braking hard at first, you should release the pressure on the brake and bypass an obstacle, or otherwise repeat the operation until the car stops.
WIth a car with ABS, you should press the brake pedal hard. The ABS will work in the same manner as pulse-braking, which was the initial prototype for the system, slowing down gently. As the implies, ABS won’t let your wheels become locked.
You should refrain from moving the steering wheel suddenly.
Likewise you should also change gears gently, to ensure the car doesn’t ‘jerk’ from rapid gear switching.
When on turns, you should drive both in and out of it in the same gear. In short, change to a lower gear before entering the corner, rather than during.
Except for extreme or special situations, you should not brake when turning.
You should also practice extra caution when in the vicinity of water reservoirs, hilly terrain, bridges and flyovers, as these areas can attract a lot of water or glazed ice. This also applies when exiting a tunnel or forested area.
At low temperatures, you should be aware of the possibility of ‘black ice’ - this is a thin layer of ice that is invisible to the naked eye while driving.
After it has rained, you should drive at a reduced speed as the road will still be wet. This also applies to melting snow, as the slush still presents a difficult road surface to drive through safely.
The higher the speed you are driving at, the higher the risk you have of losing control over your car. Tyres can’t expel all the water - this often depends on the water depth, tread grooves, crown ply width and, as already mentioned, the speed of the vehicle. The faster you drive, the more liters of water need to be dispersed in a shorter period of time. Tyres can only do so much at once, so this leads to a greater risk of aquaplaning.
It is also worth remembering that, in difficult conditions, common sense and your ability, as a driver, to imagine the road conditions are just as vital.
However, this imagination must be supported by certain, reliable skills. Preferably, you should spend some time training, such as taking up courses on safe driving. Thanks to this, you will be able to sense the car’s behaviour in low-grip conditions without causing danger to yourself or other motorists. There are various motoring events designed for amateurs that offer a safe environment to learn this valuable skill.
The tread wear indicator (snowflake with an arrow) indicates when a tyre no longer ensures proper safety.
How do car tyres influence skidding
When it comes to the technical condition of the car, the first and foremost condition you need to focus on is the car tyres, as this has a significant impact on the risk of skidding.
It is recommended that you choose a model that has a high resistance to aquaplaning and good response parameters across various road conditions. In addition, it is worth noting that the speed rating should be adjusted to the car’s power and the your driving style. As we have shown throughout this article there are many parameters to consider so, if you have any doubts, if it is better to ask a professional. Our customer service team is full of experts to help you make the best choice, whether it’s a summer tyre or winter tyre.
Of course, such tyres also need to be kept in a good condition. When it comes to offering protection against slipping, the following factors are can deteriorate a tyre’s ability to do so:
Low tread depths or so-called “bald tyres”
Low tyre pressure
Abnormal tyre wear of the crown ply, such as only having one side worn out
Defective internal tyre construction, related to excessive loads or overheating
UK tyre tread law forbids driving with a tread depth lower than 1.6 mm. However, for safety reasons, we recommend driving with a tread at least 3 mm deep in the summer. In the winter, this should be at least 4 mm deep. Currently, many tyres are equipped with a tread wear indicator (snowflake with an arrow), which informs the driver when a tyre no ensures proper driving safety.
Likewise, it is also important to maintain proper tyre pressure. Ideally, you should check your pressure levels once a month, as well before any long journey. This should be done on every tyre, to ensure that the pressure is balanced and complies with the car manufacturer’s guidelines. It is also useful to do this to the spare tyre, to ensure it is ready to be used at all times.
Furthermore, you should remember that the risk of skidding also increases when the suspension system, or car steering system, is faulty.