Winter Weather Driving Tips: Because So Much is Riding on Your Tires
Travis Thompson, Director of Risk Management // Hylant Administrative Services
Because so much is riding on your tires was a late-1980s slogan for Michelin tires. The advertisements pictured a toddler playing with a Michelin tire. The short advertisement asked drivers to consider the safety of themselves and their families and focused on the importance of good tires. As the weather turns colder and fall tightens its grip on Ohio, we should all take a moment to consider exactly what is riding on our tires.
Tires are the single connecting element between the power and performance of today’s high-horsepower technology and the road beneath. They are also the single most missed element of vehicle driving safety. Safe driving habits focus on the driver’s ability to perceive a potential hazard and respond correctly to avoid a collision. The reaction time of the driver to the hazard can be controlled by limiting distractions. The ability of the vehicle to respond is directly dependent on the ability of the vehicle’s tires to grip the road it’s traveling on.
All tires are designed with weather in mind. Tread patterns are purposely designed to promote the maximum area of surface contact with the road. Tire treads function as channels for water, mud and snow, forcing them from the center of the tire to achieve maximum dry contact. Maximum contact is only achieved under proper inflation. Underinflated tires remove contact of the center of the tire and concentrate pressure on the tread edges, diminishing the ability to remove water and other debris. The resulting loss of surface area contact unintentionally increases braking distance because less friction to the road is applied.
Many vehicles operating today have underinflated tires. Tires lose air pressure slowly over time due to changes in atmospheric conditions. Recommended tire pressure for every vehicle is listed on a small sticker located on the driver’s doorjamb. Vehicle manufacturers test vehicle performance based on these listed air pressure values and are required to provide them in this manner. Over or underinflation could lead to premature tire wear and could cause failure of the tire.
Properly inflated and normally operated, your vehicle’s tires should provide solid performance for thousands of miles. Periodic monitoring of tire pressure and maintaining them at listed air pressure values could mean the difference between an accident and safe travels.