This crazy winter has presented drivers across the nation with some serious driving challenges. While the Northern states have been hit hard, they have the advantage of ready road crews, vehicles fitted with snow tires, and drivers experienced with maneuvering through sleet, slush, and snow. The worst issues seem to have been for Southern states, which are not prepared for winter driving. In many of these areas, preparation for snow and ice is just not normally necessary, for both municipal budgets and individual drivers. A recent development I read about got my wheels turning on this subject. It is a retractable studded tire:
These tires are fitted with studs that extend and retract with the push of a control button located on the dashboard. Studs are ready for use when needed, and gone when not needed. This tire technology is currently under development by Nokian Tyre, a tire manufacturer that specializes in products for snow and other harsh driving conditions. While these non-studded tires with studs are probably not going to be available to the public any time soon, they may be a common feature in cars of the future, meaning snow and ice will be less of a problem for all drivers, no matter where they live.
As we await the development of technical solutions to winter driving woes, here are a few safe winter driving reminders:
- Take it easy – always drive a little slower during winter conditions.
- Keep in mind that it takes longer to stop a vehicle on ice and snow. Double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry.
- Don’t expect a four-wheel drive vehicle to have better braking ability than a two-wheel drive vehicle. An SUV will not stop faster than a sedan.
- Be sure to install four winter tires, not just two. You need a full set to gain all of the handling and traction benefits, and to be sure all tires have the same grip capabilities.