Tyres were not designed to travel without care in pools of water

Dear Editor,

A tyre performs the important function of ensuring that the power developed in the vehicle is transmitted to propelling it relative to the travelling surface. The traffic police, especially in their lectures to learner drivers, would have warned against speeding on wet surfaces, because the water diminishes the ability of the tyre to power against the road. Worse, part of the power goes into the water and becomes ungovernable via the steering wheel.

However, modern tyres have complicated designs of riffles and ridges that direct the surface water into them and channel it to flow out the sides so that it does not interfere with steering control. My excuse for using all this jargon is that it is what the enthusiastic young professional tyre salesmen say. What they often do not mention is that, even assuming that is true, the tyres were not designed to travel without care in pools and puddles of water deeper than the minimum height of the tyre outflow channel above the road. The reason is, although some of the water is lifted out of the way by the hollow compartments in an unworn tyre while it is rolling, there is still too much water that will remain between tyre and road to retain proper control.

Additionally, speeding into a puddle of water on the road increases the tendency of the water to form a hard surface relative to the speeding object, as anyone who plunges belly first into a swimming pool from a height would know. The fatal problem is that this ‘hard’ water surface smoothly negates all the built-in road-holding technology of the tyre.

The worst case is obviously speeding with worn tyres into water on the road, but some drivers of ‘modern’ high-tech vehicles need to dispense with the feeling of insulation from danger communicated by ardent car salesmen and just exercise plain carefulness on the road. We will live longer.

Yours faithfully,
Alfred Bhulai

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