Our kids are back at school, so it’s essential to check your tyres

Our kids are back at school, so it’s essential to check your tyres

12 Jan

By Tom Boote

And that’s that. Christmas is over and the very welcome break from the routine of rushed breakfasts, misplaced homework and missing PE socks is over. It’s been a busy festive break for everyone, and let’s face it we’re all – kids included – actually looking forward to the new school term.

As a result we’ll drivers will see the return of kids making their way to and from school. And in the digital era – with their smartphones, iPads, video game consoles and general chatting and fooling around – they’re going to be more distracted than ever, not paying enough attention to their surroundings or safety. As drivers, it’s not something you can’t fail to notice – and nor should you.

The new school term provides all of us road users with a chance to ask ourselves this very important question: if a distracted kid stepped out in front of me, could I stop the car quickly and safely?


Avoiding a tragedy - it happened to me

It was an all to familiar scenario. While driving down a residential street – close to a local school one afternoon – I noticed two young girls ahead of me walking together, both wearing headphones. I don’t know why – maybe because I have children of my own – but something about their behaviour put me on alert and made me think they might step out into the road. Sure enough that’s exactly what they did, suddenly and right in front of me.

Fortunatley for these two girls I was able to stop quickly and safely, but – despite driving slowly – it was only just in the nick of time. I was very shocked, a nervous wreck, since I realised just how close I’d come to killing or seriously injuring them both. Sure, it wouldn’t strictly speaking have been my fault, but that’s not hardly the point, is it? Thankfully, a tragedy was averted.
 

Fortunately, I was able to brake safely in a short stopping distance

Here’s a blast from the past for you. Remember stopping distances?

If so, you’ll recall that the Highway Code tells us that this consists of “thinking distance” – the time it takes for a driver to react – and “braking distance” – how far a car travels after the brakes have been applied, until it comes to a full stop. Factor in rainy weather conditions – something we experience for a lot of the time in the UK – and braking distances can literally double when the roads are wet.

So in the true story I recountered, above, I was alert not only to the possibility of the children stepping into the road, I also reacted quickly. But my car also came to a rapid and safe stop, too. How so?
 

Your tyre tread depth matters and is vital for quick, safe braking

Pioneered at the turn of the century by engineers at Continental, tyre treads – the grooves on the tyre – expel road-surface water, so that the tyre itself can better grip the road. New premium tyres are very effective at doing this, with their 8mm of tyre tread depth. Older, worn tyres are not. Period.

Consider this: There are two cars both travelling at 50 mph. The first car has brand new premium tyres, each with the original, fresh from the factory 8mm of tyre tread depth, while the second car’s tyre are just about road legal, with 1.6mm of tread. If both drivers brake at the same time, th first car will stop nearly 14 metres shorter than the second car. That’s the equivalent of three full car lengths!

Now imagine this comparison if a child is in the second car’s path… It doesn’t make for pleasant thinking, does it?


For quick, safe braking your tyre pressures matter too

Do you understand the consequences of incorrect tyre pressures? If there is too little air in your tyres this destabilises your car’s handling. This in turn affects the tyres and their ability to grip the road properly. And if your tyres have too much air in them, the part of the tyre that comes into contact with the road is greatly reduced, resulting in much less grip on the surface.

Consequently, less grip when braking means it takes you longer to stop, whatever the weather conditions, but especially when it’s wet.

Just as with tyre tread depth, your tyre pressures are really important too.


The quality of your tyres is also very significant

Premium tyres – such as those manufactured by Continental – are made from high quality rubber compounds which are very effective at gripping the road, thereby reducing stopping distances. As a result they give you a much better chance of avoiding accidents. By comparison, cheaper tyres – with their typically inferior tyre compounds – are less effective at braking. Independent tyre testing proves that this is especially true in wet waether conditions.

So if you want to ensure that your tyres are as good as they can be to brake quickly and safely – thus reducing your stopping distances and reducing the chance of collisions with children and other road users – the simple truth is that it’s worth paying a little bit more upfront for better quality tyres. If that’s not motivation enough, consider this: the superior compounds of premium tyres also mean that they last longer, which means that over time they’re less expensive for you too.
 

For expert tyre and driver safety advice, speak with Protyre

If you’re concerned about the quality or condition of your tyres and want expert advice on the best ones to buy for your car, speak to the tyre professinals at Protyre. We can offer you experienced, impartial advice and expert fitting solutions.

Our experienced team can offer you impartial advice and expert fitting solutions.

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