Rainy days could spell disaster for millions of road trippers this summer because of your tires. Research from AAA shows that driving on relatively worn tires at highway speeds in wet conditions can increase average stopping distances by 43%, or an additional 87-feet. That's more than the length of a semi-trailer truck.
AAA is now urging drivers to check tread depth, replace tires, and increase following distances significantly during rainy conditions.
Tires can be a contributing factor in crashes. In 2017 (preliminary), across New York State there were:
- 1608 crashes listed with “tire failure/inadequate” as a contributing factor (more than 4 times a day)
- 9 fatal crashes
- 506 fatal or injury crashes (more than once a day)
While AAA’s research found that tire performance does vary by brand, price is not necessarily an indicator of quality. In fact, worn tire performance deteriorated significantly for all tires tested, including those at a higher price point. AAA advises shoppers to research options carefully before selecting a replacement tire for their vehicle, and never choose one based on price alone.
In wet conditions, tires can completely lose contact with the road and skid. The depth of a tire’s tread plays a significant role: the lower the tread depth, the more likely a car will hydroplane. AAA recommends the following precautions for drivers navigating rain soaked roads:
- Avoid the use of cruise control in order to respond quickly if the car loses traction with the road.
- Reduce speed and avoid hard braking and making sharp turns.
- Increase following distance to allow for ample space if a sudden stop occurs.
- If the vehicle begins to hydroplane, gently ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction the vehicle should go until traction is regained. Do not brake forcefully as this can cause the vehicle to skid.