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Proper Wet-Weather Driving Depends on Technique, Tires
Sat, 17 Jun 2006, 18:06

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Proper Wet-Weather Driving Depends on Technique, Tires
Advanced wet-weather tires, such as this new Firestone FT70c, reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
(NUI) - Nearly 1 million vehicle accidents a year occur in wet weather, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics.

Many of these rainy-day wrecks are caused by motorists failing to appreciate the vast difference between driving in wet and dry conditions, says Peter Cunningham, a championship-winning race car driver who tours for Firestone, teaching driving skills and educating consumers about the importance of proper tires.

"It's very different than driving on dry pavement, but many motorists fail to change techniques and attention," Cunningham says. "That's when many wet weather accidents occur."

Cunningham's wet weather driving tips include:

* Slow down. As your speed increases, the tire footprint - the amount of the tire's tread contacting the road surface - decreases, providing less traction. By slowing down, you also reduce the risk of hydroplaning should you run into deeper water puddled on the road.

* Choose tires carefully. For optimum performance in the rain, select a tire with tread design and rubber compounds that provide enhanced wet weather driving capabilities, such as the new Firestone FT70c with its patented UNI-T technologies.

One of the newest and most advanced tires available for wet weather conditions, the Firestone FT70c features the WeatherGrip Tread Compound that enhances wet performance and also optimizes wear resistance for longer tread life. The tire's tread design combines wide, straight grooves and deep rib notches to evacuate water from the tire and help avoid hydroplaning situations.

* Properly maintain your tires. No tire can provide good wet traction once the tread is worn below 2/32nd's of an inch tread depth. Check your tires regularly and replace them at the proper time. Also, maintain the proper air pressure in your tires; check your vehicle manufacturer handbook or the doorjamb for the proper air pressure for your particular vehicle and tires.

* Maintain a safe distance. Even with good wet-weather tires, be prepared for longer stopping distances on wet pavement as opposed to dry. * Avoid hydroplaning. If you feel your vehicle starting to hydroplane (riding on the water surface), gently take your foot off the accelerator - don't hit your brakes. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the vehicle slow down until control is regained.

* Turn on your lights. In most states it's required by law. It may not help you see, but it will help other drivers see you.

"Think about your driving and install good tires for wet weather," Cunningham says. "Don't be shy about asking for information from your tire retailer. Your safety - and mine - could depend on your tires and how you think."

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