We hear Driving instructors tell people to stay safe at all times when they lose control of their vehicles. But is this always true and possible? I guess not.
There are several instances in which not only beginners lose control of their vehicles, but very experienced drivers too. Losing control of your vehicle could sometimes get you into serious accidents; ending in death and cars going beyond repairs.
Causes of loss of Traction
We are going to group the causes into three sections:
Condition of the Vehicle
Many of us are very careful and continue to apply all the safety measures when we are on the Road. What we fail to do is pay attention to certain mechanical changes and conditions of our vehicles.
I know drivers who go months after months without maintenance. This is very serious and endangers not just the car but the driver himself.
Brakes: Brakes must be checked from time to time and must evenly be adjusted to have the car slow down in a straight line. Evenly adjusted brakes prevent skidding since the brakes do not pull one way or the other.
Tires: Match your front and rear tires, have a correct tire pressure and make sure all tire pressures are equal on all your tires. uneven tire pressure can cause imbalance, ending in one or more of the tires dragging more than the others that car results in skidding.
Front Wheel: Your vehicle would begin to skid when you apply your brakes if your front wheel is not well aligned. Check to make sure your front wheel is always well aligned to avoid skidding.
The condition of the Road:
Many road conditions including but not limited to the following contribute to losing control of our vehicles:
A wet road, Snowflakes on the roads, oil, Mud, uneven road surfaces, broken road surfaces and potholes, Sand and Gravels, Flat curves and Broken or uneven road surfaces
Unfortunately, drivers have little to do in situations like these, but one can minimize the dangers associated with them by reducing speed.
Psychological state of the Mind and General Actions of the Driver
Depression, Anger, Anxiety, Confusion, and Stress are common causes of loss of control. Drivers should at all cost avoid taking the wheel when they are in these situations. Not having a clear mind that would not permit you to be attentive and focused could be fatal when driving.
Overspeeding: Overspeeding can result in skidding which will end up in loss of traction.
Brakes: Applying your breaks too hard in curves, hills and wet surfaces can result in loss of traction. Always learn to apply your brakes progressively and softly to result in progressive motion and stopping.
Acceleration: Sudden change in speed can cause skidding or panic which can result in fatalities.
Cell Phones: Driving and talking on the phone is always dangerous especially when one hand is on the wheel and the other holding the phone. Your mind is already divided and you do not have full control of the vehicle. Always make sure your phone is connected to your car audio system to be able to use the handsfree features or make sure you have a handsfree headset available. Stop by the roadside and finish your call before you continue your journey, or avoid phone calls at all cost.
What to do when you lose control of your Vehicle
- Fear: Do not panic. I know it is easier said than done. But panicking under such circumstance is the worst thing to do here. Panicking can result in losing focus which can become fatal. Take a deep breath three times, open your eyes wide and stay as calm as you can.
- Skidding and Steering: It is normal to think that trying to skid in the opposite direction is the right thing to do, but in fact, steering in the opposite direction only causes imbalance. Always try your best to steer in the direction of where your back is skidding. This creates a balance and would help you regain control sooner than you anticipated.
- Wheel Control: Make sure both hands are on the wheel no matter what. Keep both hands on the wheel. Your vehicle is unsteady at this point, but remember your car will be steady at some point, and you should be ready to take on when it does. Keep your hands on your wheel even if you panic. That means you should never let go of the wheels.
- Sit in a Neutral position: There’s always power in your vehicle everytime your car is in-drive. The power to the wheels is eliminated when you get into a neutral position.
- Focus: You might always be tempted to have your eyes closed especially when you panic. Remeber to always keep your eyes open to be able to see what happens around you. Keep your eyes open in order to see and redirect the car when you fully gain back control.
Even though several circumstances and conditions like road may be out of our control, there’s always something we can do to prevent or minimize dangers on the road.
Killing your speed is one thing to consider. Do not over speed and speed only when your front is clear enough.
Do not commit unnecessary overtaking, this can result in collusion and can be fatal.
Always stay in control of your vehicle and make sure you are of sound mind and fit to drive.