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Slipping in the Rain

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jcstack6

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I was recently driving on a day when it was raining fairly aggressively. I was driving fine when all of a sudden a car headed the opposite direction from me slid right in front of me almost hitting my car. After assessing the accident and making sure everyone was okay I began to think about what made the car slide all the way to the opposite side of the road. As the pavement was wet, the coefficient of friction between the car and the road was decreased. This made it so the traction in his tires didn't help him with turning. He was beginning to slide to his right side, and tried to compensate for the sliding by turning to the left. He turned to far to the left, however, and when the tires hit a dryer spot on the pavement the traction between the tires and the road suddenly increased. This pulled his car hard to the left and then allowed his car to slide all the way over to the other side of the road. It is intriguing how simple physics can become complex when situations, or in this case a changing coefficient of friction, change. So if you're driving in the rain or the snow and begin to slide, remember to keep your wheel straight, don't try to turn to far.


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