|Topic: Loss of Control|
are not driving your sport utility vehicle on straight level pavement
in winter weather is a time for additional caution. Curves in the road
are the most dangerous, whether they be freeway cloverleaf type on-ramps
or off-ramps or whether they be other highway curves. It seems that most
people do not understand the concept of centrifugal force and what that
law of physics does to a vehicle in a curve. But we all experience it
every day in our SUV's.
Ever notice that when you go around a corner that your body wants to slide in the opposite direction of the turn you are making? Pay attention the next time you make a sharp right hand turn for example, and you will notice that your body will lean to the left. Well, your SUV is wanting to lean or go to the left too! And if the pavement is wet, snowy, or icy, and if you speed is too high, your tires will loose traction with the highway and you will skid out of control to the left (red arrows in top and second photographs). This will happen if the pavement is dry too! You will lose control if your vehicle speed exceeds the ability of the tires to keep traction with the road. Always reduce your speed significantly when approaching and going through curves, especially when the pavement is wet, snowy, or icy.
Downhill slopes are another problem for winter drivers (third photograph). Excessive speed can build up, putting you and your family at serious risk of losing control if you need to make any kind of sudden maneuver, especially on wet pavement. Use your transmission to brake your decent down steeper hills.
Another common but little known cause of serious accidents during the winter months happens when road surfaces are mixed with dry and wet patches. Notice in the bottom photograph that the pavement is icy in the shady area (beyond the red arrow) but that it is dry in the sunny area. The SUV coming towards you as you view this photograph is just about to cross the transition between the icy part onto the dry part of the pavement. Now imagine that the SUV has lost control in the curve, on the icy part of the pavement, and is out of control in a skid. Assume also that the driver has hit the brakes hard. As soon as the tires transition from the icy part to the dry part of the road the tires will grab violently from the sudden traction on the dry part of the road. A roll over accident is then highly likely.
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