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Monday, 6 December 2010

Skid control.

Someone wrote to me for information of the nearest skid pan for a daughter who had had a fright. My reply might help others so here it is:

Hi David,
If she goes out now she won't need a skid pan mate. But seriously I do not know of one but if you visit the IAM site, I am sure they include skid pan experience in their training.
In the meantime, I can help her now:

Don't go out unless it is essential.(*see note) Find a large flat area with no traffic, like a weekend quiet industrial estate, and try some simple remedies to get confidence as follows:

  • Four wheel skid. Basically when the car is sliding straight. To create one, drive straight (not fast) and slam brakes on. This will cause a four wheel slide. Remove the cause by releasing brakes and it will bring back steering. I used to demonstrate this by slinging my hat out in the snow, driving at it, creating a 4 wheel slide and then my passengers tell me what side to pass the hat on. It works believe me and the only way to believe it is to do it. Start slowly and then build up with confidence. So to correct it, simply remove the cause, which is braking, and gently steer around object or, to stop, if the ABS hasn't kicked in for you, jab jab jab the brakes (cadence braking) until she stops in a straight line before the object (hat).

  • Two wheel or one axle skid: Take away the cause which is power (Foot off the accelerator peddle that is). This should then recover traction and steering. Add cadence braking to this too if the space is running out and there is no space for a direction change so stopping is essential.

  • A rear wheel skid, on rear wheel drive, can also be recovered by steering briefly, no brakes or throttle, towards the direction that the rear is going to straighten it out. But if space is too short use cadence braking to stop in a straight line.

  • Always get deceleration and slowing done on the straight and not in a bend or a turn and try to keep the engine as your slowing agent with minimum brakes.

  • In bad conditions, 2nd gear will get her around locally with the least braking required and best control using the engine.

  • To avoid skids or correct them on snow or ice and slippery roads, speed and space is the key as well as smooth and gentle steering and braking. Leave at least three times the normal safety distance from the nearest vehicle ahead and three times the normal stopping distance. This will give more time to react correctly to the skid.
It may well be that, if we are now to experience prolonged snow and ice regularly, Snow Chains will become the norm and a good investment.
Take her out and have some fun. Fun is also the key to confidence too.

*Note: Ideally private land with permission. Do not share the space with other users. (One at a time or move off.) Learning to control a car on ice is just as legitimate as any other driver learning and improvement, providing that it is genuine instruction and not just for 'fun' in my view. The police may disagree but on what legal grounds, I cannot visualise. If they ask you to stop, don't argue with them.

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