WIN­TER DRIVING

Alpine News - - One The Slopes -

If you have had a trac­tion prob­lem when driving up to, or more im­por­tantly down from, your lodge or apart­ment at your re­sort or have had a driving safety issue on moun­tain roads it will be be­cause of the type of tyres are fit­ted to your ve­hi­cle. Due to their width, rub­ber com­pound and tread pat­tern, high per­for­mance sum­mer tyres pro­vide un­ac­cept­able grip for low tem­per­a­ture snow driving. High per­for­mance, high speed rated tyres and cold win­ter alpine tem­per­a­tures, snow and icy roads are NOT com­pat­i­ble be­cause this type of tyre was never de­signed by the tyre maker to be driven in low am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures or in snow and icy con­di­tions.

It is also im­por­tant to note that the re­cent ad­vance­ments in elec­tronic driver aids, such as ABS, ESC and trac­tion con­trol do not pro­vide more trac­tion. Th­ese elec­tronic aids only pre­vent driv­ers from over brak­ing or over­pow­er­ing the avail­able trac­tion of their tyres. The only thing the driver can do to in­crease trac­tion, to ac­tu­ally get more grip and safer con­trol, is to in­stall win­ter/snow tyres. The safety is­sues that oc­cur dur­ing ex­treme weather con­di­tions, are com­pounded not only on the road con­di­tions but also by the ef­fect of the cold weather on ve­hi­cle tyres. The tread com­pound of high per­for­mance sum­mer tyres that are fit­ted, be­comes like "hard plas­tic" at be­low 7° thereby los­ing the flex­i­bil­ity needed to build up suf­fi­cient grip for brak­ing, for start­ing trac­tion and for cor­ner­ing. The real key to win­ter tyre per­for­mance is, iron­i­cally, not the trac­tion to ac­cel­er­ate, even though grip to drive through deep snow may be the first thing we think about with snow tyres. In­stead, the real key is brak­ing per­for­mance. The abil­ity to stop is ac­tu­ally more im­por­tant than the abil­ity to go, and it is un­der th­ese “exit event” con­di­tions that win­ter/snow tyres ex­cel.

Here is one way to de­ter­mine how much tyre grip is avail­able for your ve­hi­cle when driving in chal­leng­ing con­di­tions on your snow trip........ When it is safe to do so, at a safe speed, and, make sure that no one is close be­hind you, ap­ply the brakes firmly un­til the wheels lock up and the ABS is ac­ti­vated. Keep the brake pedal pressed down un­til the ve­hi­cle stops com­pletely. This will give you a clear in­di­ca­tion of the grip avail­able at that par­tic­u­lar point in time. You can re­peat this test to con­tin­u­ally mon­i­tor grip in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions.

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