Discover Mechanical

Maintaining safe braking distances - why tyre tread counts

Maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you is integral when it comes to safe driving. Failure to do so may mean that you are unable to effectively and safely stop your vehicle in time to avoid a collision.

What determines a safe following distance varies depending on:

Your speed - the faster you are travelling, the longer it takes your vehicle to stop.

The driving conditions - it is important to always drive to the conditions, in poor conditions you should double your following distance.

The type of vehicle you are driving - if you are driving a heavy vehicle, for example, you should increase the following distance.

In ideal driving conditions, a safe following distance means that you are driving at least 3 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.

Your ability to brake safely and effectively is also dependent on the quality and condition of your tyres. Tread depth is vital when it comes to the safety and performance of your tyres.

In Australia, the legal limit for tread depth on your tyres is 1.5mm. You should not let your tread depth drop to below 1.6mm. Legal tread depth is essential when it comes to safe braking.

You can assess the tread on your tyres by locating the wear markers - all tyres have these. Wear markers are small blocks of rubber in the tread that are often marked by arrows on the upper sidewall to help you find them. When the bars are level with the surface of the tread, they are worn to the legal limit and require immediate replacement.

You can also assess the tread depth of your tyres by using a 20c coin. Simply place the coin into the tread of the tyre - if the tread does not reach the platypus’s bill, there is less than 3mm of tread remaining on your tyres. Once your tyre tread is down to around 3mm, it is a good idea to start looking into a new set of tyres.

While assessing the tread depth of your tyres, you may notice that your tyres are showing signs of uneven wear. In this instance, your vehicle may require a tyre rotation.

A tyre rotation is the process of moving, or rotating, your tyres so that they trade places on your vehicle in a systematic way to achieve as even a wear as possible. It should be done by a professional according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, and at maximum intervals of 10,000 kilometers. Completing regular tyre rotations will help you to get the most life out of your tyres.

When you have the tyres on your vehicle rotated, it will also require a wheel alignment. A wheel alignment is essential if you want to achieve the best wear and performance from your tyres. When your tyres are correctly aligned, you vehicle handles better as it ensures that your steering wheel and tyres are facing straight ahead.

Tyres that are misaligned can suffer from irregular tread wear, as well as compromise the safety of your vehicle. Indicators that your vehicle may require a wheel alignment include:
  • feeling as though it is pulling to one side of the road
  • your steering wheel starts to vibrate or shudder when driving at higher speeds

Knowing what constitutes safe braking distances is essential when it comes to on-road safety. The condition of your tyres will also have an impact on your ability to brake effectively. If you would like assistance assessing the condition of your tyres the professionals at your local BestDrive store are happy to assist.

The qualified technicians at BestDrive can assess both the external and internal condition of your vehicle’s tyres. This ensures that any tyre maintenance or replacements are best anticipated and handled appropriately. BestDrive stock a great range of top tyre brands such as Continental, General Tire and Falken.

BestDrive. You drive, we care.

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