Cars are a lot more high tech than they were even a decade ago, but the reason that many cars crash is still very old-fashioned.
Slipping and sliding in wet weather.
There are almost 5.9 million vehicle crashes annually, and a nearly a quarter of them are caused by rain and wet pavement, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration*.
Since we all can’t stay in bed every time it rains, the next best thing is to figure out how to drive safely in rainy weather.
The part of a tire that connects with the pavement is called a contact patch. When it’s dry, the patch flattens to remain in touch with the road. But when it rains, a tire -- especially one with worn tread -- often loses contact with the road and skims along on top of the water.
Beginning at the end of the 20th century, tire manufacturers got better at designing tires with angled tread patterns that allow the water to escape and the tire to better grip the road when it’s wet. Manufacturers have tried a variety of designs for what is known as rain grooves, but this year, Michelin has introduced a tire that beats most of its competitors for a variety of reasons.
That’s a big improvement because tires have traditionally lost traction in wet weather as the tread wore down because the narrow grooves got shallower and less able to funnel water away. In recent internal wet-braking tests at 40 MPH to 50 MPH, even well worn MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tires stopped shorter on wet roads than competitors from Goodyear and Bridgestone.**
The MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire is also made with a rubber compound that is designed to increase grip. The compound is made from an unlikely combination of silica and sunflower oil. The silica helps the tire adhere to the road in wet conditions. The sunflower oil allows the tire to grip wet roads when it is cold.
You still have to give MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tires a little love – maintenance is important and so is using your head when you drive in wet weather. Russell Shepherd, a mechanical engineer for Michelin North America, calls himself a “tire nerd” and offers these tips for driving*** when the weather is yucky:
** Based on internal wet braking test results from 40 and 50 MPH versus Goodyear® Assurance® TripleTred™ A/S tires in sizes 235/55R17(99H) and P215/60R16(94V), Bridgestone® Turanza™ Serenity Plus in size 215/60R16(95V); using MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tires in sizes 235/55R17(99H) and 215/60R16(95V) buffed to 5/32"of tread. Actual on-road results may vary.