Drivers might be shocked to find out how little contact their vehicle has with the road in wet conditions if their tyres don’t have enough tread depth, says Hamilton City Council Road Safety co-ordinator Mihi Bennett-Smith.
“With just 1mm of water on the road, tyres that are down to the minimum tread depth have just a fraction of the contact with the road than they have in dry conditions – and the faster you go, the less contact is made,” she says.
Tyres without much tread left or are underinflated will have less grip on the road and will mean your car takes longer to stop in wet conditions. New tyres have around 8mm of tread, and the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm, but the more tread, the better. Correct tyre pressures will also make tyres last longer, and make a major contribution towards fuel economy.
A NZ Transport Agency graphic showing the comparisons in wet weather highlights the dramatic difference tread and speed can make.
“It just takes a minute – you can check your tyres yourself or take your car into a garage or tyre shop, but it could save lives.
“We all know to take more care in wet conditions while driving, but making sure your car can grip the road is just as important. Please take the time to check your tread levels, and if they aren’t up to scratch, do something about it,” Ms Bennett-Smith says.
Driving Tests NZ’s Darren Cottingham says it’s our roads that are dangerous – roads are just roads – it’s how we drive on them, and you can make a choice to drive more carefully this winter.
“While we can’t control the weather, we can control how we prepare our cars for winter and how we react to different driving situations. Rural roads tend not to be as well marked or maintained as city roads and that means that we have to be more careful driving in winter.”