For many people, the winter season means a welcome opportunity to ski, skate, sled and slide.
However, Goodyear officials recommend those types of activities should be confined to the slopes and rinks, and not practiced on the highways.
One of the best ways to avoid slipping and sliding in a vehicle this winter is to improve the contact points between the vehicle and the road surface. For many motorists, that means selecting new tires with improved tread grip.
In severe winter areas, motorists may opt for a seasonal changeover that employs true winter tires to combat the expected ice and snow. For most, however, the choice may come down to a year-round tire that features an aggressive enough tread to handle the occasional sloppy winter days.
Goodyear's line of winter tires, according to Bob Toth, Goodyear marketing manager for auto tires, are engineered to perform in cold temperatures, as well as in snow and slush. Additionally, Goodyear's tires featuring TripleTred Technology, while not winter-specific products, still carry many of the same characteristics.
The TripleTred tires - Assurance for cars and minivans, and Fortera for SUVs - are year-round products that don't have to be changed over on a seasonal basis. They feature an Ice Zone, which translates into more gripping power on icy or snow-covered roads. This zone is enhanced by the use of fiberglass fibers and volcanic sand in the rubber, which help to present microscopic pores that act as traction elements.
"The bottom line for consumers is knowing what level of winter they might face," said Toth. "Based on past experiences, do they feel their winter weather is moderate enough to choose a year-round tire? If they want the convenience of no seasonal tire changeovers, should they select a product that offers them the kind of performance and grip they need in any kind of weather?"
Whatever tire is chosen, Toth offers advice for motorists who will be faced with potential slippery driving conditions this winter:
- Match your driving speed to the current conditions. If conditions are challenging due to a slippery road surface or reduced visibility, decrease your speed. A slower driving speed allows more time for a necessary response.
- Additional factors to consider when adjusting speed are the condition of the vehicle, its tires and your driving abilities. Always keep in mind the posted speed limits, and understand that those limits indicate the maximum speed when weather conditions are good.
- Plan ahead and try to anticipate potentially dangerous situations. When approaching a curve or potentially slick area of the road, use the brakes effectively. The brakes should be applied only before a curve and on a straight section of the road. Sometimes, taking your foot off the accelerator and allowing the vehicle to naturally slow without using the brakes is best.
- Be alert to other vehicles. Maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. If someone else seems to be following too close to your vehicle, perhaps slow down to allow them to pass -- rather than speeding up to achieve a distance between vehicles.
- If visibility is poor, remember to use your lights. This helps other drivers to see you when approaching or when following. You should always turn your lights on when your windshield wipers are operating.
- Set the vehicle interior to a comfortable temperature. This can be a challenge during winter when drivers and passengers may be wearing heavy coats in a vehicle, but it is imperative to be comfortable when driving. Comfort includes keeping the windows free of frost, ice and snow.
- Be as smooth as possible, avoiding sudden braking and steering responses. Always signal early when turning or stopping, in order to alert approaching or following drivers.
- Avoid overconfident driving, and avoid overestimating the vehicle's capability simply because it is equipped with anti-lock brakes, four-wheel drive, traction control, winter tires or other safety devices. Do not allow good judgment and smart driving to be overtaken by a false sense of security provided by vehicle technology.
- Before driving in inclement weather, be sure that your vehicle is properly maintained. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly; have the correct level of antifreeze for heating and defrosting the vehicle; keep plenty of gas in the tank; and always use required safety devices such as seatbelts.
"Preparation -- of the vehicle and the driver -- is the key for winter driving," he said. "When it comes to driving on the changing road conditions, ranging from dry, wet, icy and snowy, one of the most important factors to consider is the tires. It doesn't matter if it's a front-, rear- or four-wheel drive vehicle; it will perform better if the vehicle has good tires. For some, this means purpose-built winter tires. For most, any-weather tires with plenty of new tread will do the job."