When questioned about car control most people would say they were able to control a car perfectly well. Most people are unlikely to have ever really thought about it because day to day driving doesn’t tend to call for much car control. The problem comes on that one occasion where an incident occurs and in a split second car control could well save your life and that of others.
Most modern cars have an array of computer features that deal with much of the car control for you.
ABS or the Anti-lock Braking System is designed, as most people know, to stop the wheels from locking up under heavy braking. This means, in all but the slipperiest situations you can stamp on the brakes and just hold your foot there until the car stops. Before ABS the only way to stop quickly was to use cadence braking, it took skill and you had to have a real feel for when the wheels were going to look. As you might expect, most people didn’t have the skill needed and crashes were common.
Traction Control, this system does exactly what you would imagine. It stops the wheels from skidding, not under braking but during driving. Most drivers would not really notice it unless they drive rather enthusiastically. There are various systems employed by different manufacturers but the general idea is to bring the throttle back until the car gets traction again. Regardless of if your foot is planted on the floor, the computer will not keep putting power to a sliding wheel. There is also various stability control systems that are far more complex and stop the car sliding in corners and other skid situations.
A lost Art
The problem with all the technology keeping you safe is that different manufacturers use them to different degrees and the systems themselves are of varying quality. Some barely work, some work too hard and can cause problems because of that. Another issue is that if the system is not working properly many drivers simply don’t have the skill to control a car in an extreme situation and are likely to crash. Car control is an important skill, it is a critical part of driving even if it doesn’t come up very often. In the past people learnt how to control their cars because the car themselves were often skidding and sliding, not ideal as many accidents occurred as a result. These days cars don’t have these issues and so no one learns how to control a skid or slide.
There are numerous places around the country that offer car control lessons. They use low friction surfaces to allow you to slide the car safely and provide the perfect situation to learn. The skills that can be learned would hopefully never be used, but if a situation did arise where you were sliding sideways along a road, you would know what to do. Car control is the responsibility of every driver, in the same way knowing how to safely use a car in more normal stations. Don’t be embarrassed by the fact you don’t know how to control a skid, you are not alone, but do consider doing something about it.