MOTORING NEWS - The "simple" act of driving every day is actually among the most complex tasks, due to the many variables that are often outside the individual's control.
Drivers must successfully navigate these to get safely from A to B.
So says Tiger Wheel & Tyre.
"Road surface conditions as well as weather conditions change from one road, and one minute, to another, and drivers have no control over these factors," said the group marketing executive, Joe du Plooy.
"What they can control is how well their tyres are equipped to handle challenges and how they react in these circumstances.
"Tyres are the only point of contact between vehicle and road and should always be in peak condition. Consider that while the minimum legal tread depth is 1mm, the reality is that at just 50% worn, the road contact area is reduced by 75%."
"Worn tyres are especially dangerous in the wet, because they lose the ability to channel away surface water, increasing the risk of aquaplaning - when the vehicle loses traction and becomes uncontrollable."
Tiger Wheel & Tyre provides some top tips for emergency road safety and driving on different surfaces:
Rain or snow
The seasons are no longer the only guide to weather, so be alert to unseasonal weather. During these conditions, increase following and braking distances, make gentle turns and don't brake if the vehicle aquaplanes. Ease slightly off the accelerator until steering control is regained. In case of flash flooding, drive to higher ground and park. Don't attempt to navigate low-lying bridges or roads, as floodwater may carry the vehicle away and the engine could get hydro-locked. Drowning is a very real danger.
Pull to the side of the road as soon as you safely can, preferably under a bridge. If possible, position the vehicle so hail hits the windshield head-on. It's stronger than the other windows. Turn your face into the seat to protect against shattering glass, but do not leave the vehicle.
Inflate tyres to manufacturer recommendations, preferably with nitrogen, which makes them run cooler. Underinflated tyres run hotter and when you add hot road surfaces, there is an increased risk of a tyre blowout.
Loose dirt makes for similar conditions to those encountered in the rain. Skidding is much like aquaplaning, so drive as you would in wet conditions. If you drive on dirt more than tar, consider switching to off-road tyres for better grip.
If a pothole can't be avoided, brake hard, then release the brakes before impact so the vehicle has its full suspension travelling to absorb the impact. Also drive straight through the pothole. Hitting it at an angle causes impact energy to transfer in ways that may damage the vehicle. Be cautious when driving through puddles as they may conceal potholes. Sometimes it is better to drive across a pothole with it underneath the car and between the wheels, rather than swerving into oncoming traffic. Use your judgement whether this is possible and the pothole is not too big.
"Tyre maintenance is as important as reacting appropriately to changing driving conditions. Among other things, we recommend drivers inflate their tyres with nitrogen so they run cooler and last longer; check their tyre pressure and tread wear monthly. It's also advisable to rotate tyres and balance and align wheels every 10 000km, or as indicated in the vehicle owner's manual," concluded Du Plooy.
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