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Sci-Tech

Learn to corner your car like a champ when you're skidding -- with science

The National Geographic show "Science of Stupid" explains what happens when you oversteer or understeer (beside the part where you skid into a guardrail and your insurance premium goes up).

You probably don't look this cool when your car is sliding into a turn, unless your drive to work involves a Rally car that accommodates carpooling.wpaphotomotorsport/Pixabay

It happens to every driver. You approach a turn and as you start to twist the steering wheel, you can feel the traction of the tires lose their grip on the road. Your car starts to swerve against the natural flow of those painted lines on the asphalt. Thoughts of panic set in as you try to remember whether you're wearing clean underwear at this scary moment in time. Don't worry. You probably won't be by the time the car comes to a stop.

If you're not sure what you'd do in this situation, a new video from the National Geographic Channel (embedded below) can show you how to handle a skid (besides wetting yourself and spouting a stream of obscenities).

A video from the series "Science of Stupid" starring former Richard Hammond explains exactly what's happening to the car when it understeers, oversteers and just careens out of control during a turn.

It's all about traction or the lack thereof and whether the front, the rear or both sets of tires have lost their traction on the road. So knowing how to react to that loss of traction can prevent you from careening off the road, or help you pull off a sweet drift that you didn't know you could do and should never try on a public roadway on purpose. I can't stress that enough, people. I know you think you can pull of a sweet drift in Forza Motorsport 5 , but cars in video games don't come with high-priced insurance policies.

The simulation in the video below also shows a left-hand turn -- which is more appropriate than the producers might realize, because left turns are actually the more dangerous turn you can take on the road.

According to The Washington Post, several studies show that the vast majority of car accidents happened when the driver attempted to take a left turn. For instance, a 2001 survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 53.1 percent of crossing-path crashes happened when cars attempted to make left turns, while only 5.7 percent involved cars making right turns. A 2010 report from the New York Department of Transportation found that cars taking left-hand turns were three times as likely to cause a fatal pedestrian accident as cars making right-hand turns.

So the lesson is that instead of taking left turns we should all just take three right turns? I'm no expert on the internal combustion engine, but that must eat up a lot of gas over time.