Auto safety experts are warning that driving during heavy rains can be just as dangerous as driving on ice covered roads.
New research from AAA reveals that driving on relatively worn tires at highway speeds in wet conditions can increase average stopping distances by as much as 43 percent, more than the length of a semi-trailer truck, when compared to new tires.
With nearly 800,000 crashes occurring on wet roads each year, AAA urges drivers to check tread depth, replace tires proactively, and increase following distances significantly during rainy conditions.
AAA says it conducted testing to understand performance differences at highway speeds between new all-season tires and those worn to a tread depth of 4/32” on wet pavement.
AAA researchers say they found that compared to new tires, tires worn to a tread depth of just 4/32” exhibit an average increased stopping distance of 87 feet for a passenger car and 86 feet for a light truck; and a 33 percent reduction in handling ability, for a passenger car and 28 percent for the light truck on average.
While AAA said its research found that tire performance does vary by brand, price is not necessarily an indicator of quality.
In fact, researchers say worn tire performance deteriorated significantly for all tires tested, including those at a higher price point.
AAA advises shoppers to research options carefully before selecting a replacement tire for their vehicle, and never choose one based on price alone.