Drivers, if you’ve waited too long to replace worn out tires, you may be at risk for a dangerous situation on the roads.
With summer showers often popping up in the afternoon, some drivers may find that having “relatively worn” tires can increase average stopping distances by up to 43 percent, or about 87 additional feet, AAA Tidewater Virginia says.
Drivers should check tread depth, replace tires “proactively” and increase following distances during rainy periods, AAA said.
When roads are wet, tires can completely lose contact with the road and skid, which is called hydroplaning. The less tread tires have, the most likely a vehicle is to hydroplane.
When roads are wet, AAA recommends drivers:
- Slow down and avoid hard braking and sharp turns.
- Increase distance behind vehicles ahead, so drivers can have enough space to stop.
“Tires are what keep a car connected to the road,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Even the most advanced safety systems rely on a tire’s basic ability to maintain traction, and AAA’s testing shows that wear has a significant impact on how quickly a vehicle can come to a stop in wet conditions to avoid a crash.”
Research by AAA and the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center shows tires worn to a tread depth of 4/32 of an inch:
- Increase stopping distances by 87 feet in a passenger car and 86 feet in a light truck.
- See a 33-percent reduction in handling ability in a passenger car and 28 percent in a light truck on average.
Virginia state regulations require operating vehicles to have tread depths of more than 2/32 of an inch.
“With newer cars going longer intervals between routine maintenance at automotive service facilities, drivers may not become alerted to the fact their tires are too worn until it’s too late,” Blumling said. “Slip an upside-down quarter between your tire grooves and look at Washington’s head — if you can see all of it, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.”