A few nights ago, I was on my way to Saltair to photograph a concert. I-80 was extremely slick with fresh snow and old ice. Due to the large amount of road gunk that had been splashed onto my windshield by a passer-by, I did not see my exit until the very last second. I tried to slow down so that I could exit safely, but my car immediately started to skid and turn sideways on the highway. Somehow, I regained control, though I missed my exit.

The next day, I find myself in a defensive driving course as a part of some job training. Appropriately enough, we were discussing driving in inclement weather, specifically, how to recover from a skid.

There are many schools of thought. Some of them revolve around counter steering. Some take into account whether you are in a rear wheel drive or front weel drive car. The common theme among them all is that you are performing compensatory steering measures, taking into account the angle of the skid, how far the rear of the car has swung out, your speed, etc. It all seems so complicated, and when you have .7 seconds to react and fix the situation or crash, simplicity is a godsend. Our instructor uttered the words that almost always are the mother of every great new idea: “There has got to be a better way”! The National Saftey Council does, in fact, have a better way.

To recover from a skid, simply steer in the direction you want your car to travel.

None of this hocus – pocus compensatory steering angles stuff. Just let off the gas, resist the temptation to slam on the brakes, and simply point your wheels in the direction where you want to go. Your vehicle will calm down and eventually go there.

Allow me to wax philosophical for a moment. Often times in life, we find ourselves in situations that feel very much like my out of control car on I-80 the other night. I know that when relationships feel like they are skidding and sliding out of control, I begin thinking of what counter-steering measure will compensate and bring things back on course. I’m thinking that compensatory measures just don’t work.

I think my crazy old driving instructor had a good point. When you find things are out of control…
Let off the gas
don’t brake
keep your wheels pointed in the direction you wish to be travelling.

Thanks for the tip, John.

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