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Accident danger point: half-worn tires

Tennessee drivers may be driving confidently with half the tread left on their tires. However, tires give up significant ability to grip road surfaces even with half the tread left, especially during rain and snow. Hydroplaning, when tires lose their grip on the road and driver cannot control the steering, can become a serious problem on wet roads that may lead to car accidents. While even new tires can hydroplane and lose their grip, at half the tread tires hydroplane more quickly and at lower speeds.

To make sure tires have enough tread, measure with an inexpensive tread-depth gauge by using a penny to measure the depth of each tire groove. If the top of Abe's head is showing in any of the grooves, the tires have reached their wear limit and need to be replaced. When tires are new, they have 10/32 inch-deep groves. When the grooves measure 2/32 inch deep, they are considered bald.

Consumer Reports tested tires by comparing full- and half-tread performance in wet, snowy and dry conditions. In wet conditions, half-tread tires had about 8 percent less hydroplaning resistance. On snow, half-tread tires showed a loss of 15 percent snow traction. Only on dry pavement did half-tread tires grip better, so they could be safer in arid conditions, but not when there is rain or snow.

Because tires with less tread take longer to stop, can hydroplane and have less traction, they can contribute to automobile accidents. A lawyer may be able to help a person who has a personal injury in an auto accident, such as trauma, broken bones or brain injury. If a negligent driver who may have failed to maintain his vehicle properly allegedly caused the crash, a lawyer could help the injured party file an insurance claim seeking compensation for the injuries.

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