Very few motorists know what to do in a skid. In fact the instinctive reaction, which is to apply brakes and move ‘way’ from the direction of the skid are the two worst things you can do. There’s no doubt that an advanced driving course will help any motorist but increasingly technology is being used to help mitigate dangerous driving situations.
What is anti skid technology?
Anti skid technology is a blanket expression for a range of technologies that may help reduce the effects of skidding. This may include a form of stability control and also technologies designed to improve brake performance in adverse conditions. An anti-lock braking system, or ABS (from the German, Antiblockiersystem) is a safety system which prevents the wheels on a motor vehicle from locking while braking.
A rotating road wheel allows the driver to maintain steering control under heavy braking by preventing a skid and allowing the wheel to continue interacting tractively with the road surface as directed by driver steering inputs. While ABS offers improved vehicle control in some circumstances, it can also present disadvantages including increased braking distance on slippery surfaces such as ice, packed snow, gravel, steel plates and bridges, or anything other than dry pavement. There are also concerns that ABS may create a false sense of security amongst drivers.
Since initial widespread use in production cars, anti-lock braking systems have evolved considerably. Recent versions not only prevent wheel lock under braking, but also electronically control the bias in braking between the front and rear wheels, or even individual wheels.
Anti skid technology and safety
A 2003 study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre found that ABS had a positive effect when it came to safety. ABS was said to have
- Reduced the risk of multiple vehicle crashes by 18 percent
- Reduced the risk of run-off-road crashes by 35 percent.
In conjunction with stability control it may prove to have a substantial positive impact. So much so that both Europe and the US are making stability control and other anti skid technologies mandatory.
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In Australia there is industry resistance to this idea on the basic that making it mandatory may preclude development of other safety technologies and Australia has a high volunary takeup by industry anyway.
Anti skid technology and your car
One problem with technologies such as ABS is that it can make drivers complacent. ABS does help in extreme driving situations, but there is no substitute for driving carefully and the worse the conditions the more careful all drivers should be. When purchasing a car anti skid technologies should certainly be considered, especially if you live in an area where the conditions are often wet or icy.