What does “Turn Into the Skid” Really Mean?

by Rob Schermerhorn on September 2, 2011

“Turn Into the Skid!”  (related to this post on skidding)

You’ve heard this phrase, likely first from your gym teacher/ driving instructor in high school; nearly every driver has heard this…. BUT, what does it really mean?

“Duh—you say to yourself—to TURN INTO THE SKID…!” I say to you, “what does that LITERALLY mean? What’s the step(s) to do that?

Is it:

  1. Turn the wheel
  2. Drive out of the skid
  3. ???

First of all, you’re correct, that “turn into the skid” is the proper method to recover from a ‘fish tail’ or over-steer or rear-tire skid (however you describe it) and your first driving instructor was right. What I’m ranting about is the fact that with your average driver the day after he heard that phrase completely forgot about it; so it’s something forgotten until you really need that knowledge. Plus, it takes conscious thought to execute… (“which way am I skidding, which way to turn the wheel?”) You have milliseconds to execute the correction—no time for frontal lobe conscious thought!

Here’s a method that will never fail, but first you must never forget one thing:


Cone with tire tread marks Where was this driver looking?

“Looking where you want to go” sounds incredibly easy; here’s the catch: reality is that it’s difficult to “look where you want to go” when adrenaline is coursing through your vessels as you anticipate the crash! Old-brain programming is to always look toward the ‘threat’, unconsciously forcing you to look at a ‘negative’ outcome like hitting a tree or telephone pole. Looking at said tree? Then you’re practicing the corollary to “look where you want to go” which is “stare at the crash”!

Begin consciously practicing “positive goals” skills, always searching for the way out of a potential threat, like looking more toward the open lane vs. staring at the license plate of the car ahead of you while he slams on his brakes (which only gives you a head start on the subsequent paperwork after the rear-ender). Only with practice will this habit become permanent.

Once you’ve begun mastering “positive goals”, it’s with this skill that you execute a perfect rear-tire-skid recovery:

As you begin sliding you will turn the steering wheel correctly as you’re already looking where you want to drive; you can’t help but input the proper steering as hand-eye coordination is guiding your hands on the steering wheel (not Jesus as Carrie Underwood may have us believe).



Andy September 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Nice article– certainly simplifies the skid recovery method in a way that’s easy to understand. Now, about the cone… I know that tire mark looks like it may be a Goodyear F1 Supercar print, and I admit that’s what is on my car… but I really don’t think I did that! However, realizing there may be photo evidence of the impact, I will not deny it.

Rob Schermerhorn September 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

Haha, upon closer inspection the tire markings are clearly a BFGoodrich KD so you’ve been cleared of all charges and free to continue going about your business of having fun at the track!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: