One of the most dangerous driving maneuvers is overcorrection. Indeed, it is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents, because it can result in rollover crashes. Just as recently as last month, a Blaine man nearly died in Whatcom County because he lost control of his vehicle, overcorrected and rolled. He suffered severe injuries including a skull fracture. Though he was wearing his seat belt, which greatly increased his survival chance, he may have been driving under the influence. All of those factors combine to make for a potential deadly situation that can take place in seconds.
What is overcorrection?
To overcorrect means to over steer when a driver feels loss of control of the vehicle. It's a common reaction that drivers must practice avoiding in the event that they would ever lose control of their vehicles. It can happen during a tire blowout, or hitting ice and going into a skid, hydroplaning, or distracted driving. A driver will instantly think he made a mistake and will overcorrect the steering. That often means grabbing the steering wheel and jerking it in the direction he wants the car to go, which is not the direction the car's inertia is going. This can put the car into an uncontrollable spin, turn it sideways and go off the road. Here are some graphics from NHTSA's Safer Car initiative that shows how overcorrection happens.
Fortunately, one way to avoid having to be in a situation where you might panic and overcorrect is to not drive while distracted. It's an all-too-common scenario, when a driver isn't paying attention to the road, looks up and has to avoid a last-second collision. Chances are, that driver will jerk the steering wheel, which overcorrects and leads to a rollover crash, especially when traveling at highway speeds.
Other ways to avoid overcorrection are to try the "CPR method". This means:
Correct your vehicle by looking at where you want to go and steer in that direction. Pause by letting your foot off both the brake and gas. Recover by getting back into the proper lane.
Lastly, stay calm. I realize that's difficult to do, but if you mentally plan for emergency scenarios like losing control of your vehicle and know what to do, you've got a much better chance of not panicking. If you do find yourself drifting, remember to not panic. If you've read this blog, which by now you have, you know what to do! Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and ease the vehicle back onto the road. Hold the wheel tightly, because you'll have to fight inertia to gently guide the wheels back into the right direction. Make your movements confident and steady. Don't brake suddenly, either; instead, if you need to brake, do so gradually, because sudden braking can also put you into a skid. Here's more on braking in a skid.