Log In

What is Centripetal Forces and Centrifugal Tenancy?

Centripetal means "center-seeking" or "toward the center" - when an object is moving in a circular path around a fixed center, there is a force created called centripetal force, which pushes the object toward the center.

centrifugal force

Without the centripetal force, an object would not have been able to move in a circular manner around a fixed center.

Example: The force that keeps the planet continue circling around the sun.

Centrifugal tenancy (sometimes refers to as centrifugal force) works in the opposite way of centripetal force.
Centrifugal is the tendency of an object that is moving around the circular path to wanting to go in a straight direction.

In reality, "centrifugal force" is the tendency created by inertia for any moving object to want to move in the same direction and speed, so when going around a circle, the object wants to get away from circular and go in a straight direction.

If you tie an object to a string and then swing the object in a circle around you, it becomes harder to hold onto the object. Centrifugal tendency pushes the object in a straight direction or outward, making it harder to hold on.  As you spin the object faster, the centrifugal tenancy increases.

So, when driving on a circular path or a curved path, centripetal force is the force that provides you the ability to continue driving around the circle, while centrifugal tendency is the inertia force that pulls your vehicle away from the circle path and toward the straight line.

When you are driving on a circular path or a curved path, follow these rules to counteract the centrifugal tendency:

  1. Slow down before you begin driving along the curve.
  2. Do not apply your brakes in a sudden or sharp way when turning or you will lose control of your vehicle.  Safely slow down by applying your brakes gradually while turning.
  3. Safely switch to a lower gear to slow down.

Some modern roads are angled (banked roadways), which provide a better turning control during the turns; this is the feature that counteracts the centrifugal tendency that pulls vehicles away from the turns. However, whether you are driving on a banked turn or a flat turn, always slow down when begin driving along the circular path or a curved path.