Road Safety During Wet Weather: The Importance of Tyres

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Road Safety During Wet Weather: The Importance of Tyres

Driving on a smooth road on a clear sunny day is quite different from driving in wet weather conditions. If you think your vehicle and your driving skills cannot sustain the blows from the rain, it is advisable to remain indoors until absolutely necessary. But what happens when you must step out of the house in the rain, with low visibility and unknown potholes? You should prepare and frequently maintain your vehicle in order to ensure that you will always be as safe as possible when driving in wet conditions.

One of the major causes of road traffic crashes is the weather; heavy rain is no exception. Slippery and flooded roads can prove dangerous to motorists. Proper maintenance of your vehicle is an important step towards ensuring your safety on the road. To prevent undesirable outcomes, it is important to focus on one part that comes in direct contact with the roads, that is; the tyres – to ensure that you drive safely during this rainy season.

 

Tyres help to keep on the road and go through a lot of friction, wear and tear. If you are planning to change the tyres, doing so before the rainy season is advisable. The wet road reduces the tyre’s grip and may lead to loss of control. Balding tires (tires with minimal or no tread left) are also responsible for slipping as they severely reduce traction on wet roadways. Studies show that driving on wet roads with tires that have only 4⁄32 inch of tread depth left could increase the stopping distance of a passenger car by approximately 87 feet (that is, approximately 26.5 meters) and reduce a driver’s ability to control a vehicle by nearly 33 percent. Here, we share some tips to help you care for your tyres:                 

v Check the surface of your tyres, at least once a month to ensure they are in good condition. Tires should have a tread pattern. The primary job of the tread pattern is to expel water, which can affect the contact patch with the road in wet conditions, and to provide grip and traction. Wet roads can cause tyres to lose the level of traction when rubbing against the road, leading to aquaplaning, a scenario that occurs when a layer of water builds up between a vehicle’s tyres and the road surface, thus significantly reducing the grip of the tyre. In bald tyres, grooves are worn out making it difficult for water to flow out from under the tyre. On wet roads, worn-out tyres take significantly longer to come to a stop once the brake is applied, even in vehicles with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). This consequently leads to vehicle collisions.

v Ensure proper tyre inflation. Over or under-inflated tires can lead to reduced traction and early wear. Ensure that the air pressure in your tyres is up to recommended standard; avoid just filling them up as you like. You can find the recommended tire pressure listed near the driver’s door and on the owner’s manual. Remember to also check the tire pressure of your spare wheel. It is important to ensure your tyres are balanced correctly and the vehicle wheel alignment is regularly checked so they wear evenly and have no balding areas that could be prone to aquaplaning.

v Never let your tires go past their life, instead, have the urge to replace them immediately for safety.

v If the tyres of your vehicle have uneven wear and tear or if the tread depth reaches to Tread Wear Indicator (TWI) level or if you observe any cuts or bulge or any cracks, it is recommended to change the tyres with a set of new ones.

v Always use the right tyres for your vehicle. Also, change expired tyres to avoid any safety hazards.

v Never assume that the tyres on your vehicle are the correct ones, even if you have newly purchased it; unless you bought it from an authorised dealer.

v Finally, stay updated. Listen to the radio, watch television and also view online traffic related news to keep yourself informed of any accidents, road closures, or any mishap that may have occurred.  Plan your trip in advance in order to avoid heavy traffic and be aware of current weather conditions.

 

While many of us would prefer to stay at home on a rainy day, sometimes we inevitably need to get out on the road. Unfortunately, driving in wet weather can increase the risk of an accident occurring.  Dealing with vehicle problems is never easy, but in wet weather, it can be particularly unpleasant. Good tyres are indeed a crucial factor in ensuring safety and avoiding accidents. Therefore, it is essential to avoid tyre failure in wet weather. The importance of good tyres should never be underestimated. Even with safety features in place, motor vehicle crashes can occur if not for a good set of tyres. There is no shortcut when it comes to safety. Remember that tyres are the most important components between you and the road.

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe emerged from the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board which originated from a voluntary organisation composed of area associations in Harare (then Salisbury), Bulawayo, Gweru (then Gwelo) and Mutare (then Umtali).

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