How to control a skid in winter

Winter is a wonderful season, but harsh weather conditions can make roads in the UK treacherous to drive on. In any one day you could find yourself contending with rain, wind, sleet, fog, snow and ice – so you need to be extra cautious.
This season’s sub-zero conditions can cause ice to cover our roads, which seriously raises the risk of skidding.
Being behind the wheel of a car that’s skidding is a scary experience, and hopefully a situation you won’t ever find yourself in. However, it’s really important to learn what to do if your car does start skidding in order to keep you and you passengers safe.
First things first, though: with accidents more likely to occur during the winter months, you need to check that you have a good car insurance policy in place – which is easier said than done if you’ve ever received a motoring conviction.
The Insurance Factory specialises in convicted driver insurance policies that feature all of the benefits of standard car insurance. We understand that the past is the past, and are committed to getting you back behind the wheel with as little hassle as possible.

Preventing a skid

As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. Sharing advice with iNews, instructor at Knockhill Racing Circuit’s skid control centre Bill Wardlaw explains that while knowing how to handle a skid is good, it’s even better knowing how to prevent one happening in the first place.
He notes how most skids are down to the driver. “By properly concentrating, drivers can reduce the chance of getting into difficulty in the first place.” He shares some of his top tips:
  • Follow the three pillars of safer driving: observation, anticipation and planning.
  • Wheel grip changes every few metres, so stay alert and always be aware that road conditions could change at any time.
  • Look ahead to ensure you spot potential hazards (like puddles and ice) and can adjust your driving accordingly in plenty of time.
  • Keeping your speed down in poor weather conditions will reduce the risk of you losing control and give you more time to react.
Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, adds to this advice. “Even when frost thaws, ice will stay around areas that are often shaded. Consider how you drive through these micro-climates and be prepared to slow down if you need to.”
The trick to prevent your car from skidding is to drive as smoothly as possible – this goes for braking, accelerating and steering. Sudden or harsh manoeuvres can reduce the stability of the car and make it more vulnerable on poor road surfaces.
A car driving down a snowy road

What to do if you start to skid

So, what do you do if your car starts to skid? As driver education specialist Tecnic stresses, it’s important not to act on instinct (something that’s easier said than done in a situation such as this) – but instead, to follow these practical tips:

1. Keep calm

Again, this is easier said than done if you feel like you’ve completely lost control of your car. However, remaining as calm as possible when your car starts to skid will help you to better judge and react to the situation, as well as apply the right driving techniques.

2. Look in the direction you want to go

You might be skidding in the wrong direction, but try to stay looking in the direction you wish to travel – aka your escape route. This can really help you to control your car and get it back to travelling in the right direction.

3. Don’t touch the pedals

It can be tempting to slam your foot on the brake if your car starts to skid, but doing so could make the situation a lot more dangerous – and the same goes for accelerating.

Actually the key to getting control of your car back is to remove your feet from all pedals and let the car slow down on its own accord.
In some situations, Metro writes, you might have to use your brakes to avoid hitting something or someone. If you have to use the brake, then you should pump the brake rather than putting your foot to the floor.

But you should really try to avoid braking on ice as it can make the skid worse.

4. Don’t make any sudden movements

In the same way harsh manoeuvres can increase the risk of skidding, harsh movements during a skid can make the situation worse. Rather than yanking the steering wheel left or right, turn as carefully and smoothly as you can.

5. Steer into the skid

Again, you need to act against your instinct which is telling you to steer in the opposite direction to the skid, and instead steer into it.

So, as Metro notes, if the back of your car is moving out to the right, steer your car by turning the wheel to the right – and vice versa. When the car starts to straighten out you should then straighten your steering wheel.
Obviously, how much you steer will depend on how much your car is skidding. If it’s only a minor skid then you’ll only need a slight turn of the steering wheel. In any case, make sure you keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
 A car driving on a road through a misty field

Convicted driver insurance from the Insurance Factory

These top tips will help to cut the risk of a skid and keep you safe on the road this winter. And remember, if you’re looking for convicted driver insurance, we can set you up with a policy to suit your individual needs.
We consider a range of convictions, including:
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving or attempting to drive while over the alcohol limit
  • Exceeding the speed limit on a motorway
  • Driving in a dangerous manner
  • Driving at a dangerous speed
  • Reckless driving
  • Non-motoring convictions
We’ve got more than 20 years of experience and have access to a leading panel of specialist insurers. Get a free, no-obligation quote today!