What Should You Do When Your Vehicle Starts To Skid?

Posted on March 26, 2024

Drivers become accustomed to their vehicle acting almost as an extension of their body, reacting to even the smallest movement of the steering wheel or the slightest acceleration or deceleration.

That’s why it’s terrifying when a car or truck suddenly skids out of control, leaving the driver only an instant to decide how to react in a way that decreases the chance of a serious car accident.

Can a motorist do anything to take back control or minimize the chances of an accident during a skid? Learn more from a Salt Lake City personal injury attorney today.

What Causes a Car or Truck to Skid?

When a vehicle’s tires lose traction on the road’s surface, the result is spinning tires that have lost friction with the road.

Skids commonly occur on road surfaces that are slick from ice, snow, slush, rain, or—in less common circumstances—from oil or other slippery products spilled on the roadway.

A skid may also occur during a sudden stop or swerve, especially if the car’s tires lack tread or are in poor condition. Pushing too hard on the brakes may cause the tires to lock up, causing the car to slide forward out of the driver’s control.

Speeding is another common cause of skidding. When a speeding driver has to suddenly stop, slow, or swerve due to a road hazard or other cause, the result could be skidding out of control.

Skids are more common in inclement weather conditions but can occur due to driver error or from defective car parts such as faulty brakes, tires, or steering systems.

What to Do When a Car or Truck Begins to Skid

It’s difficult to keep a clear head when your vehicle skids out of control. Unfortunately, human instinct in this case tells us to do the opposite of what we should do.

If a car skids out of control in one direction, our natural instinct is to steer the wheel in the opposite direction. Everything in our driving experience tells us to turn the wheel the way we want to go, but this is the wrong maneuver during a skid. Instead, do the following actions in this order:

  • First, remove your feet from the pedals. Don’t try to accelerate or decelerate.
  • Then, steer into the skid. In other words, steer into the direction you want your front tires to go which would be left if your rear tires are sliding to the left or right if they are sliding to the right. This realigns the tires rather than causing a “fishtail” back-and-forth slide.
  • As your vehicle recovers from the skid, the rear wheels might start sliding the other way. If this occurs gently ease the steering wheel toward that side.
  • In the worst skids, you may have to ease the wheel back and forth like this several times to regain control.
  • As the car begins to slow down, gently tap the brakes.

Never jerk the wheel or overcorrect during a skid. Any action you take should be slight and deliberate, but immediate to avoid completely losing control.

If you are sliding down a hill after a skid, put your car into neutral so all four tires will spin at the same speed to help regain traction.