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Coping with hazardous driving situations

20th November 2019

Most of the journeys we make in our cars are straightforward enough, with little or drama to speak of, thankfully. That said, not every trip will be that way, and there are many dangerous situations we can find ourselves in on the road. In this article, we're going to look at a few such examples and find out what we can do to stay safe and secure, as well as how Continental tyre technology can help us when we're under threat. 

What to do when an animal runs out in front of your car

Many of us love animals, which makes this an especially traumatic situation. Despite this, under no circumstances should we attempt to swerve out of the way of an animal that has wandered into our lane. The safest thing to do is to apply the brakes as soon as possible, firmly, while securely holding the steering wheel. This situation should be treated just like an emergency stop; keep the car straight and let the brakes and tyres do their work to bring the speed of the vehicle down. With any luck, the animal will move out of the way, and you may not need to stop completely. If you do, however, Continental premium tyres help improve your stopping power, especially in wet weather conditions.

What to do when driving in snow

When winter comes around, the first thing drivers should do is invest in a set of Continental winter tyres. These specially developed seasonal tyres provide far more grip and security in the cold months, compared to the usual summer tyres, thanks to their special compounds. These differ from the compounds used in warm weather tyres.

An alternative to winter tyres that are proving increasingly popular is fitting all-season tyres, such as Continental’s award-winning AllSeasonContact™. These offer south-east drivers some of the benefits and safety characteristics found with both summer and winter tyres, without the need to change from season to season.

While it’s true that optimal performance is provided by each of the dedicated summer and winter tyres, the AllSeasonContact™ tyre is recognised by the UK’s biggest-selling weekly car magazine, Auto Express, as being the undisputed best in class. Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief of Auto Express, said: “Just a quick look at the results is enough to show which was the dominant tyre in this test. No matter what the surface, the AllSeasonContact™ was on the podium… A great test debut that shows how an all-season tyre should perform.”

When driving in the snow, it's crucial to remain smooth and gentle with the controls – and have confidence in your inputs. Use the brakes, the steering, and the accelerator as progressively as possible, and if the car begins to slide, steer into the slide to correct it. In low grip situations like this, always remember to leave extra space between you and vehicles in front of you. This distance can never be too much, so err on the side of caution to help avoid collisions.

What to do when you aquaplane

Aquaplaning occurs when your car hits a body of water. When this happens, the tread on our tyres cannot remove enough water from the road quickly enough, and as a result, they cannot maintain contact with the surface. This means you have no ability to steer or successfully brake, since you’re effectively gliding on the water, instead of gripping the road.

So how to minimise the risk of aquaplaning? One way is through having deep tread depth. New Continental tyres are capable of dispersing up to 30 litres of water a second at a speed of 50mph. However, this is when the tread depth is at its deepest level of 8mm. When your tread levels get low, the tyres’ ability to disperse water drops dramatically, and this increases the risk of aquaplaning. If aquaplaning happens, you should immediately take your foot off the accelerator, press the clutch in, and avoid moving the steering wheel or braking suddenly.

Fitting the right tyres reduces stopping distances

In hazardous driving situations, the difference between having or avoiding an accident can come down to stopping distances. Every inch sooner that you can come stop is vital, particularly in wet weather conditions. And the best way of achieving shorter stopping distances? Fit premium tyres, like Continental’s award-winning tyres.

Why? Because independent tyre testing conclusively prove that the superior quality compounds used for premium tyres deliver better braking performance than those used for cheaper, inferior budget tyres. Choosing to fit budgets may appear to save you a few quid in the short term, but premium tyres are a long term investment in your life, and that of your loved ones.

What do to before taking a long trip

Many motorists love to take a road trips, but before you go there are a few important things you should do in preparation. The first thing on any driver's list should be to check both the tread depth and pressures of your vehicle's tyres. Too little tread means you'll suffer from a lack of grip, so if you're below 3mm of depth, get some new Continental tyres fitted.

Another important pre-trip check wheel alignment. At Merityre we can do this for you. This, along with rotating tyres around your vehicle, will result in more even tyre wear, resulting in better contact with the road surface – and improved grip. A full Continental road trip guide can be found here, along with additional driving information on cornering and driving in wet conditions.