What is Traction Control, and When Should it be Used?

Traction Control

Traction control is a commonly included safety feature on many vehicles that helps to adjust for changing road conditions. When a loss of traction occurs and the vehicle is in danger of leaving its intended travel path, traction control could be the one thing that prevents a car accident from happening. Car accident lawyers continually handle cases that might have been avoided had traction control been in use.

Some cases even arise from the use of traction control. All vehicle safety systems have limitations, and that includes traction control. Some drivers even forget whether their respective vehicles have traction control or if it is on or off. That level of uncertainty could have serious consequences while driving.

How Traction Control Systems Work

A traction control system is a slight misnomer because by the time traction control becomes active, the vehicle already lost traction on at least one wheel. Disregarding the semantics, the traction control occurs when onboard sensors detect one or more tires slipping as the vehicle searches for lost traction. When a tire slips, that wheel and respective axle spin faster than wheels with good traction. The sensor detects the change in wheel RPMs and cuts the power to that wheel to enable it to gain traction.

When a wheel slips, the tire’s contact patch is not getting the friction needed with the road surface to maintain good traction. The faster the wheel spins, the harder it is to regain traction and the more likely a vehicle will lose control. The traction control system is designed to take care of that problem. The onboard sensors do all the work with an active traction control system.

The respective wheel sensors tell the onboard computer that the RPMs are higher than the other wheels. The computer knows that higher RPMs are due to slippage and reduces the power to that wheel. Reducing the power does not automatically mean traction is restored. But it enables the tire and wheel to regain traction. The sooner one or more slipping wheels regain traction, the quicker your car regains its correct travel path. The longer those wheels slip, the more likely something bad could happen.

Driving Conditions that Commonly Benefit from Traction Control

Traction control is a great tool when you are driving on roads that do not have ideal surface conditions. Rain, snow, slush, and ice are commonly encountered weather conditions that could affect traction at one or more wheels. Oil slicks, rough patches of roadway, and sections covered with sand or gravel also could cause one or more wheels to lose traction.

The traction control is the ideal solution for such traction issues. The slower a slipping wheel is turning, the better its chances of regaining traction by finding the friction. It is no different than trying to drive up a snowy and slick roadway.

If you floor it, the drive wheels will just sit and spin in place. The car might even start sliding sideways or backward until it gets stuck. But if you give the car just enough gas to find traction and move forward at a steady pace, you are far more likely to maintain traction.

The traction control acts like a smart driver and searches for traction by reducing power to the wheels. Providing the wheels with just enough power to maintain traction and slowly accelerate to safe traveling speeds helps to keep your car between the lines and prevent accidents.

Other Systems Help to Maintain Vehicle Control

In addition to traction control, most vehicles come equipped with a variety of other systems that support traction control A combination of several systems working in tandem help to make travels much safer. But accidents still could happen at any time.

Many current vehicles are equipped with stability control systems. Stability control systems detect changing forces on the suspension and adjusts internal pressures to maintain stability. Stability control helps to keep your SUV or pickup from rolling over in sharp turns that you might enter too quickly, for example. Stability control systems work at all times and greatly supplement traction control systems.

Virtually all modern vehicles also are equipped with antilock brake systems (ABS), which help you to maintain control during hard stops. Hard stops could cause the wheels of your vehicle to lose traction during hard stops or even slippery ones. The ABS prevent the wheels from locking up when detecting a wheel losing traction.

The ABS work in tandem with the traction control to give you the maximum control under less-than-ideal situations.

Traction Control Could Inspire Driver Overconfidence

A traction control system can do much to help prevent accidents and help to maintain proper travel paths. But these systems are not foolproof and have limitations. Much like a 4×4 drivetrain, it only works as well as the wheels, tires, and driver allow it to work. A driver easily could become overly reliant on traction control, all-wheel drive, or a 4×4 system to maintain and hold traction. Bad things often coincide with driver overconfidence.

The vehicle must be capable of holding its travel path owing to proper maintenance and sensible driving. If you become overconfident while driving and rely on traction control and other vehicle systems to handle rough spots, an accident is more likely to happen. Traction control and other vehicle systems always work best when you adjust your driving to match road conditions.

The same principle applies to other drivers. If they become overconfident and rely on traction control and other vehicle safety systems to maintain control, they might cause an accident. If they do and you are among the victims, you could have a potentially strong case against the offending driver.

When weather or road conditions clearly warrant the use of traction control systems, a reasonable driver would use it. An unreasonable driver might not, which could cause the vehicle to lose traction and skid out of control. If the vehicle loses traction and causes an accident with one or more other vehicles, the driver who negligently left off the traction control unit could be liable for that decision.

Proving Accident Claims

Car accidents seldom trigger lawsuits, but you still need to prove your side to collect full claims and the best possible settlement amount from the respective insurers. You might think your accident claim is ensured, but faulty police reports and lies told by other parties can make details of the accident unclear. Fortunately, you can take some steps to build a better case and obtain the best possible settlement.

As soon as an accident occurs, you need to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. If there are any witnesses who can support your side of the accident story and are willing to help, you need to get their names and contact information. Taking pictures and recording video of the accident scene can help greatly in determining which vehicle lost control in many instances.

Any treatment for injuries must be fully documented as well as costs going to and from doctor appointments. Any time spent off work to treat initial injuries or obtain ongoing physical therapy and other medical treatment also counts toward lost earnings. Even trips to the pharmacy count as costs that could be recovered with a strong case.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help Clients Build Strong Cases

Traction control works great in the proper conditions but is not foolproof. There are times when it is best to turn off traction control and other times when leaving it off is downright negligent. If you were injured in a car accident, the experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. We will investigate the cause of the accident and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.