As today is the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, the Colorado State Patrol suggests that you don’t toss any pennies away next time you get change, as one of them could just save your life.
Drivers who haven’t experienced that helpless feeling of losing control on a slick winter road yet this year may not be thinking about the state of their tire treads. One simple test using just a penny can answer whether they ought to be.
“Motorists driving up our mountain highways would be wise to take a penny and insert the edge of the coin into the tread of their vehicles’ tires,” said Captain Tim Keeton, commander of the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Motor Carrier Safety Section. “Place the coin with Lincoln going headfirst into the tire’s tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread that means there is a safe amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn and it’s time to replace it. For winter’s driving adverse conditions, your tires should exceed the minimum tread depth standard.”
Working with Big O Tires, the CSP and the Colorado Motor Carrier Association (CMCA) have joined forces to remind motorists traveling up our mountain roads to check their tires.
“Your vehicle’s tires should always exceed the minimum tread depth standard, as your tires are the only part of a vehicle to touch the road,” says Drew Prange, Big O Tires. “And, this is especially important when driving in adverse winter conditions when tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking. While this is never an expense drivers are happy to face, the cost of a collision can be far higher, and of course adding any injuries to the equation puts the investment into proper perspective.”
“Annually, the CSP covers more than 100 vehicle crashes caused by tire problems along the I-70 corridor,” Captain Keeton points out. “However, that’s not the whole story. Many vehicles spin out on snow covered and icy roads due to unsafe tires. We can’t keep a count on these spin outs as many times the driver has corrected his vehicle and is driving away. Usually many other cars and commercial motor vehicles are left behind as a major traffic jam has been created which we do cover.”
The Colorado Motor Carrier Association (CMCA) reminds you to check tire pressure too. Each 10-degree drop in temperature can lower tire pressure by approximately one pound per square inch, which can also affect handling and braking. Adding air is a simple fix to a potentially life-threatening problem.
All Big O Tire locations in the state are providing free safety checks, and if new tires are needed, a tire expert will assess your specific driving needs to get you into the best set at the best price for your budget. During the tread checks, a tire tread depth meter will be used to determine if the tires are safe. The safety check will also consist of an inspection of a vehicle’s lights and windshield wipers. You can find your nearest Big O Tires stores by going to www.bigotires.com.
The best advice for driving in harsh winter weather is to not drive at all. However, if you must drive, the CSP, Big O and the CMCA advise drivers to follow these basic winter driving and tire maintenance tips:
- Reduce speed during winter conditions.
- When braking, double your anticipated stopping distance anytime conditions are not dry. It takes longer to stop in snowy or icy conditions.
- Don’t assume a four-wheel drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel drive vehicle – four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.
- Replace all four tires when purchasing new tires. You will not get all of the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.
- When examining the tread, look for signs of uneven wear, as well as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulge damage. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss can occur.
- Correct tire pressure is critical. Under inflation causes extreme stress on the tire and over inflation can cause uneven wear, as well as handling and braking issues.
- For every 10-degree drop in outside temperature, tire pressure decreases approximately one pound per square inch. Check tires regularly in cold weather. Inside the driver’s side door is a sticker that provides correct tire pressure, or check the vehicle’s owner’s manual.
- Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cool.