Safe Driving – Tires Keep You on the Road
Safe driving hinges on good equipment, and your tires are one of the key factors that add (or subtract) a sizable margin of safety when you drive.
I’m big on safe driving because it’s perhaps one of the most dangerous things that most of us do on a daily basis. Tens of thousands of people die each year in traffic accidents just in America alone. It’s not hard to find dozens of people whose driving skills suggest that they should never have been issued a license, or at least should never have had it renewed. As an associate of mine says, “There are just a lot of bad drivers out there.”
As you might imagine, one of the keys to safe driving is to be a good driver, and part of that involves knowing something about your vehicle. The main point I’d like to make today is this: tires are the only things that keep you on the road. Of course, one might say that steering keeps you on the road, but when you’re hydroplaning because your tires can’t handle water on the road, steering just doesn’t come into play.
So, let’s get back to the idea that tires are the only things keeping you on the road. It also helps to know a bit about the condition of your tires, the road you’re riding on, and the speed you’re traveling.
It seems like not too long ago I checked my tires and replaced them before they needed replacing simply because I knew that I would likely be driving through some heavy rain, and my interest was to stay on the road. Only today I checked the depth of my tread to determine when I might need to replace my tires. I’m still safe in terms of tread depth, but I would feel better with more. Knowing how much tread depth I have will help me judge how fast I might go on certain road surfaces during various weather conditions. If I didn’t have a clue as to the condition of my tires, then I’d only be guessing.
With tens of thousands of deaths each year on the nation’s highways, I’m not going to be leaving my ability to stay on the road to guesswork. Again, your tires are the only things that keep you on the road, so you better know their condition.
With safe driving in mind, I generally make the following checks on my tires on a regular basis:
- General review of tire inflation each time I fill up. It only takes a moment and it can help you detect a slow leak that could easily damage your tire if left unattended.
- Check of tread depth (like today) when my front wheels are turned such that the tread is exposed enough to check.
- Check of tire inflation any time they look low (like when I take a look at them when I’m filling up) or just before I’m going on an extended trip.
Safe driving means more than understanding how to operate your vehicle, it also include knowing something about your vehicle, especially your tires.
Several years ago I was talking with an owner of an auto parts store. At the time I was buying a vacuum booster and master cylinder for the brakes on my truck because the gasket between the two was leaking and I figured the diaphragm inside the booster was aging and not reliable. He said something that was pure truth in my mind:
“The two things you absolutely need to have working on your vehicle for safety are brakes and steering.”
I started to think about this and realized that steering points you in the right direction, and brakes enable you to bring the vehicle to a safe stop. Think about it. What else is essential for safe operation of the vehicle?
If you buy into the idea that braking and steering are paramount when it comes to safety, then you have to buy into the idea that tires are a key to safe driving. There’s no chance of stopping or steering as you would like if you have bad tires on your vehicle. Again, tires are the only thing that’s keeping you on the road. Take care of your tires and they’ll take care of you.
Clair Schwan recognizes the challenges of safe driving, and tries to make sure that the condition of his vehicle doesn’t add to those challenges.