Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Steer Into the Skid

For those who learned to drive in regions where snow and ice are commonplace, you learned the fundamental driving maneuver to compensate for a loss of traction when driving a rear-wheeled car: steer into the skid. For those of you who learned how to drive in areas without snow and ice, a skid happens when the front wheels and the back wheels head in opposite directions. For example, if I am travelling down a highway and wish to turn to the right, I would turn my steering clockwise with my front wheels following suit. This maneuver, ideally, means my car would turn to the right. However, if I am on a slippery surface like ice and snow, the back of the car continues forward without turning. This results in a skid, a fishtail effect that removes all control from my hands. This leaves the car sliding, following Newton's laws of motion. Uncorrected, the car threatens my safety and the safety of everyone in my path.

Thus, all drivers are taught defensive moves to regain control of a skidding car. The measures are summed up in this phrase: "steer into the skid." The driver is to remove his foot from the accelerator, slowly apply a light, pumping pressure to the brakes, and turn the steering wheel into the direction the back of the car is headed. If you watch enough high-speed car chases on TV, you will see this theory put into practice. If you live in a climate with ice or snow, you will test the theory yourself. Hence, all beginning drivers should be taught how to steer into the skid.

This concept can also be applied to guys as they live out their daily lives. Eventually, a man will fall into an unexpected, uncontrolled skid. This "skid" typically involves a situation where self-control and calm lose out to anger, frustration and other kneejerk reactions in the face of unexpected stress. For example, you may be cruising through your day when all of a sudden you're blindsided: you enter your house and are immediately hit with "You are late!" or "You forgot to call!" or "Why am I the last to know!" or something similar. We've all been there, haven't we? In those moments, we're turning one way when all of a sudden the traction of our emotions is gone, and we find ourselves skidding in a different direction -- into a sure and sudden confrontation.

It is then our defensive driving techniques can save us and the ones we're about to plow into. We can take our foot off the accelerator of our anger, slowly and gently pump the brakes of our listening skills, and head into the skid. We can then better maneuver our attitude, catch our breath and find out what really is the issue. By doing so, we reject the nasty impulse to continue our collision course, which would most likely begin with a glare and end with a heated remark. By ignoring every rash move that comes to mind and asking in a calm voice what the issue really is -- and then actually listening -- we can regain control and avoid the damage caused by an out-of-control skid of anger.

If you've ever experienced the relief of regaining control of a skidding car, you can appreciate that sometimes we have to ignore our first instincts and steer into the skid.

Watch out this Christmas season for unexpected places where you may have to apply this driving principle. Like holiday shoppers ... they're everywhere

1 comment :

Frances said...

Learning how to operate a skid steer might take time but after you learn that, it would be an indispensable skill on your part.