Drunk driving. Texting. Bad weather. When most people explain the cause of a car accident, it’s usually a driver error or a sudden rainstorm—nothing that the victim could have controlled. But it may surprise you that the real cause of many car accidents isn’t what happened in or outside of the car, but underneath it.
Bad tires contribute to numerous NJ crashes every year—causing blowouts, swerving, or loss of control that turns a fender-bender into a critical accident. The largest factor in winter crashes is lost traction due to worn-down tire treads, which many drivers overlook simply because they don’t know when to replace worn tires.
In most states, tires are legally required to have no less than 2/32 inches of tread depth. However, most drivers will notice a loss of tire performance long before the tread depth has sunk that low. Here are a few ways tire tread depth can affect driving in winter conditions, including:
- Rain – Since water can't be compressed, tires need at least enough tread depth to funnel rain between the tire's grooves. If your treads aren’t high enough to let water escape, your car will hydroplane across the road surface. Most manufacturers recommend at least 4/32 inches of tread depth in wet weather.
- Cold – A cold snap can significantly change the air pressure in your tires, leading to less grip and increasing the chances of a blowout. Cornering and braking are particularly affected with under-inflated tires, which can deflate up to 1 psi for every 10 degree drop in temperature.
- Snow – As snow depth increases, the treads on your tired become even more important. States with heavy snowfall often require at least 6/32 inches of tread depth to allow tires to grip and move through the snow, with bald tires presenting a dangerous lack of traction.
So how can you tell when it’s time to replace your tires? The easiest method is to check your wear bars, located on the tread design of each tire. These run across the tread pattern from the outside to inside shoulder, allowing drivers to easily see when the tread has worn too low. You can also place a penny in the lowest point of your tire tread: if the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, you have less than 2/32 inches of tread.
If someone you love has skidded on bad tires this winter, we encourage you to send them a link to this article on Facebook or tell them to contact Manfred F. Ricciardelli, Jr. at 877-360-0183 for a FREE assessment of their case.