How Tire Tread Depth Can Affect Stopping Distance

December 12th, 2019 by

Copper Mercedes-Benz SUV driving on country highway

To ensure your ability to safely navigate the roads of Bullhead City and beyond, you’ll need to make sure your tires are in good condition. Tire tread depth can not only impact handling and performance but also the stopping distance of your vehicle. Find out more about how to calculate stopping distance, along with how tire tread depth is a contributing factor to the stopping distance of your vehicle, with Mercedes-Benz of Henderson.

What is Reaction Distance?

Reaction distance is the distance you travel from the moment you detect the need to stop to the moment you start braking. Driver reaction time normally ranges between 0.5 to 2 seconds, but this figure can be altered by:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Anticipation of the need to stop
  • Fatigue
  • Medications or alcohol

What is Braking Distance?

Braking distance is the distance your vehicle travels from the point you start braking until the car is standing still. This distance can be impacted by multiple factors including:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Tire tread depth and condition
  • Braking condition and technology
  • Your vehicle’s load
  • Road conditions and gradient

How to Calculate Stopping Distance

When calculating your vehicle’s stopping distance you need to take into account both the reaction distance and braking distance. To estimate stopping distance, perform the following calculation:

  1. Take the first digit of the speed your vehicle is traveling and square it, then add a zero to the result, and divide by 2.
  2. Now double your speed, and add it to the previous result

For example, if you’re traveling 50 mph, you would square 5 to equal 25, and then add a zero to the end to get 250, which would then be divided by two to get 125. At this point, you would double your speed of 50 mph (which makes 100 mph) and add that to the previous 125. All together, you’ve calculated a stopping distance of 225 feet!

How Tire Tread Depth Impacts Stopping Distance

In wet or snowy conditions, tire treads allow water and snow to move through the grooves in the tire. This leaves more tire in contact with the road and increases grip and control. Since 1968, the recommended minimum tread depth is 2/32 of an inch. However, a study by TireRack showed that two sedans traveling 70 mph have significantly different stopping times when you hit the 2/32 of an inch, with the sedan with 2/32 of an inch of tire tread depth requiring an additional 1.2 seconds and 88.8 feet to stop compared to the vehicle with tire treads at 4/32 of an inch. With this in mind, you may want to consider replacing tires sooner for improved stopping capabilities.

Get Help With Your Tires at Mercedes-Benz of Henderson!

Not sure how your tire treads look? The team at our tire center can take a look at your tire treads and make recommendations on tire maintenance to keep your tires performing longer. If new tires are required, we can help you choose the ideal tire size and type for your vehicle and find you a great price with our parts specials. Visit us today to get your tires checked, and drive confidently around Henderson!