Protyre News


Stopping distances and the roll your tyres play


Whether in the town, on the motorway or in the country, when you need to stop you need to do so safely and quickly, especially in wet weather conditions.

Do you realise how important your tyres are these situations? Not everyone does, so the Protyre team believe it’s time to give this important matter the attention it deserves.

This definition from the Highway Code is worth noting. “Stopping distance” actually consists of two phases: first of all there’s the “thinking distance” – the time it takes for the driver to react; then comes the “braking distance” – the length your car travels after the brakes have been applied, until it stops. Braking distances can often double in wet driving conditions – yes, double!

The condition of your tyres affect your stopping distances

If tyres are worn or incorrectly inflated they pose a serious risk – not only to you and your passengers but to your fellow road users and pedestrians too. Both of these issues directly affect the way your tyre is able to grip the road as the tyre tread expels water in wet driving conditions.

Fact: worn tyres are dangerous, full stop.

Pioneered by engineers at Continental Tyres in 1904, tyre treads – the grooves on the tyre – are designed to efficiently expel surface water, allowing the tyre‘s rubber to grip the road. The fact is new tyres are very effective at this, older worn tyres are not.

Consider this. Two cars are both travelling at 50 mph; car number one has brand new tyres with a full 8mm of tread all round, while car number two‘s tread is at the legal minimum of 1.6mm. If both cars brake at the same time, car number one will stop almost 14 metres shorter than car number two. Shockingly, that‘s the equivalent of three car lengths! Now imagine what could be in car number two‘s path on the UK’s streets, motorways and country lanes…the thought is scary.

Learn more about tyre tread depth in the Protyre Car Help and Advice Section

Whatever the weather, tyre pressure matters

If your tyres are under-inflated it makes your car much more difficult to control, since the tyres cannot grip the road surface properly. If your tyres have too much air in them the part of the tyre that makes contact with the road is significantly reduced, resulting in much less grip. With less grip your car takes longer to stop, in both dry and wet weather conditions. If you want to learn more about this, read this article about tyre pressures.

As well as being unsafe – and frankly, dangerous – incorrectly inflated tyres wear out unevenly, and as a result need replacing more often, costing you time, money and inconvenience.

With too little air, under-inflated tyres wear more at the edges, and this affects driver handling. With too much air, over-inflated tyres wear more at the tyre centre, reducing tyre tread just where it makes most contact with the road, and where the most grip is needed.

In short, incorrectly inflated tyres pose a risk to you, your passengers and your fellow road users.

Shorter stopping distances keep you safer in all conditions

The hazards, locations and weather may change, but wherever and whenever you drive you always need be prepared to stop – quickly and safely.
In our towns and cities we need to be vigilant for pedestrians, especially children who will often step off the footpath into the road without warning. We also need to be alert for sudden braking by other road users, who themselves may be reacting to the actions of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers in a confind urban environment.
In the countryside – with its often narrow, winding lanes – we need to be vigilant for oncoming cars and motorbikes, which may be travelling too fast; of buses and agricultural machinary, whose large width can result in them encroaching on the wrong side of the road; of cyclists, whose silent approach can often go unnoticed; and of pedestrians, who will often be forced onto the road because of a lack of footpaths, and steep verges.

And it’s just as hazardous on the motorway. One moment you can be driving trouble free at 70 mph, the next there’s a sudden build-up of traffic, which can result in the need to suddenly brake so as to avoid slamming into vehicles ahead.

And that’s just on a clear day, let alone when it’s raining heavily, or worse, foggy. In all these conditions and situations – and many more – your ability to stop quickly can help to prevent accidents, and as a result save lives – including your own.

Do premium tyres help to reduce stopping distances?

The Protyre team are often asked this question, and the simple answer is yes. Premium tyres, with their superior rubber compounds, offer greater grip and performance than budget tyres, period. Countless independent tyre testing has shown this to be true, and while the initial outlay for premium tyres is more expensive than budgets, ultimately they prove to be less expensive over time, since they need replacing less often and are much more fuel efficient.
But more importantly, if you value your safety and that of the people you’re travelling with, it’s very clear – premium tyres are the better choice and help you to stop quicker.
When it comes to suddenly needing to stop quickly and safely – in both wet and dry driving conditions – there are three crucial factors at play: your ability to react quickly, your brakes and the quality of your tyres. The simple truth is that budget tyres – due to their lower quality rubber composition – simply are not as effective at gripping the road, the result of which is a significantly longer stopping time and distance, particularly in wet driving conditions.

Your next steps to achieving shorter, safer stopping distances

If you’re even remotely concerned about the quality of your tyres and require impartial, expert advice, speak with Protyre’s experienced tyre professionals now.

Our team are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding stopping distances, as well as other tyre safety information, including how you can spot the signs of tyre wear, and correct tyre pressures.

Simply contact your local Protyre centre by clicking the button below!

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About the author

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By Adam White
Adam looks to create engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Adam enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.
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