My Diatribe on Saving Lives
By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA
Even though the price of crude oil, and hence gasoline is down of late, we’ve had an excellent response from doctor readers regarding our recent ME-Ps on automobiles, car insurance, driving costs, and fuel efficiency, etc. So, while not a forum for auto enthusiasts - it is Memorial Day weekend after all – I’ll try to give our readers what they want with this personal essay.
Regardless of how well you care for your tires, the time will come when you must replace them. Safety as well as convenience is at stake. You don’t want a flat tire, but driving with worn tires also makes your car more difficult to control, especially in bad weather. Although many doctors get so busy they forget to check their tires, others do not know how to tell when they need to replace their tires. The following pointers will help you learn how:
As tires roll over highways, the friction between them and the road wear down their treads. When tires have inadequate tread depth, they will not grip the road well and can lead to unsafe driving conditions, especially in the rain. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says the minimum safe depth of a tread is 1/32 of an inch. You may not have a ruler handy to measure your tread, but a simple technique makes checking your treads easy.
Take a penny and insert it into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head pointed downward toward the center of the wheel, facing outward. If you can see Lincoln’s forehead, the tire still has useful life. If you can see Lincoln’s hair on top of his head, you will soon need a replacement. Finally, if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head or the empty space above it, you should replace the tire as soon as possible.
In the United States, tires have wear bars that provide a visual signal when they need replacement. Wear bars are shorter than healthy treads, so they are not noticeable to most drivers. When treads wear, the wear bars become visible and look like bridges across the tread grooves. When this happens, you need to buy new tires. Some doctors have trouble identifying wear bars at first, so if you can’t see them on your tires, ask a service technician or your local mechanic to show you.
Tires lose their integrity with age. Heat, sunlight, chemicals from the road, and gases from the air cause tires to corrode and oxidize, making them unsafe for use. This problem can especially affect spare tires which often sit in trunks unnoticed and unused for prolonged periods. Develop a replacement plan for any cars you own that get little use and for your spare tires. Tires wear at different rates depending on how often the car is driven and how many miles are put on it each year, so there is no exact time frame for tire replacement.
Other Signs of Wear
Not all tires wear evenly, so all medical professionals should periodically inspect every part of their tires. Look for uneven wear and flat spots on the edge of the tread. Replace tires that bulge on the sides. Visible wires signal that a tire has gone too far. The wires you see come from the metal belts that strengthen tires; manufacturers do not intend for this part of a tire to contact the road.
To avoid problems with your tires, inspect them regularly or have your mechanic or dealership inspect them anytime you go in for service or an appointment. Try adding a reminder to your task list, calendar, or schedule to make sure your tires never leave you stranded or put you or your car in danger.
My own luxury weekend “fun” vehicle is a vintage European, pearl white, touring Jaguar XJ -V8- LWB. I love the control, precision and feel of my high-performance Pirelli P6 tires. It’s how I roll.
GOMER [Get Out of My Emergency Room]
I covered the emergency room for more than a decade; auto accidents due to poor tire tread are endemic especially at night and in the rain. So, please check your tires, and replace them if needed; today. We want our ME-P readership to grow. The life you save may be your own.
This ME-P is a follow-up, by reader request, of a prior popular essay of mine. How Smart Doctors Can Save Big at the Pump I appreciate your interest.
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Filed under: Funding Basics, Risk Management, Touring with Marcinko Tagged: | auto tire safety, Doctors - Please Get New Automobile Tires, Dr. Marcinko, Jaguar XJ-8, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA, tire treads