The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

American Drivers Admit Fear of Winter Roads

Survey shows tire grip is perceived as more important than four-wheel drive, yet one in five drivers still need to purchase new rubber before winter arrives

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 22 -- A majority of Americans say they are prepared for the approaching winter travel season, however, nearly two-thirds admit to fear of an accident while driving in bad weather conditions, according to a recent survey sponsored by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company .

As a way of communicating the effectiveness of their Assurance and Fortera tires with TripleTred Technology, consumer marketers at Goodyear were interested in finding out how people approach changing weather conditions, and the driving challenges that arise.

In the recent "Goodyear TripleTred Traction Study," conducted by Marketplace Insights, more than half (53 percent) of respondents said inclement weather has negatively affected their overall trip experience.

"More than anything, drivers want confidence when they're on the road, especially when adverse weather conditions create driving challenges. The condition of the tires is important for traction and grip," said Todd Hershberger, Goodyear's general marketing manager, light-truck tires.

While automotive experts recommend good quality tires and ample tread because the tires are the only components of a car that make contact with the roadway, most consumers actually seem to understand the tires' important role.

Among survey respondents, 60 percent felt that tires are the most important factor when driving in inclement weather. When feeling a loss of control on wet, snowy or icy roads, consumers have generally blamed the weather (46 percent), although they cite their own driving ability (18 percent) almost as often as they cite their tires (20 percent).

Recognizing that the condition of their tires is important when driving in bad weather, nearly one in five survey respondents still admitted they need to replace their vehicle's tires before winter's most challenging weather arrives.

According to Hershberger, "Along with the antifreeze and battery check- ups, an inspection of the tire tread should be a year-round practice, and especially as we prepare for potential slippery road conditions." He recommends a set of winter tires for motorists in some snowy regions, or at least a strong year-round tire like the Goodyear Assurance featuring TripleTred Technology, a good choice for cars and mini-vans, or the Fortera featuring TripleTred Technology, available in sizes for SUVs.

Some motorists may feel more secure in inclement-weather driving when they're behind the wheel of a vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, a feature found on many SUVs and crossover vehicles. However, an overwhelming majority (77 percent) of those surveyed felt good tire traction and grip are more important than four-wheel drive capabilities. Further, just a third of consumers feel a four-wheel drive feature provides driving assurance in any weather, while more than half (54 percent) believe good tires offer peace-of-mind driving.

When faced with difficult driving conditions due to nasty weather, motorists have reacted by refusing to continue their travels. Consider:

   - More than two-thirds recall being forced to pull to the side of the
     road when driving during a heavy rainstorm.
   - Nearly two out of five have cancelled a planned trip when severe
     weather was forecasted.
   - One-third of survey respondents admit to being involved in an auto
     accident blamed on adverse weather conditions.

Nearly all of those surveyed (91 percent of business travelers, and 93 percent of those on a personal vacation) consult weather forecasts before hitting the road. As for their favorite source of accurate weather forecasts, this survey group chose the Internet (54 percent) as the top choice, followed, specifically, by the popular cable television outlet, The Weather Channel (25 percent). Other sources included local TV forecasts, radio and newspaper.

Goodyear reminds motorists that last winter included heavy amounts of snow - including record seasonal snowfall totals in many areas - and the deep freeze felt by much of the northern U.S. last winter created lots of slick surfaces.

Often, the first snowfall of the season catches drivers unprepared, and for many in the U.S. and Canada, the first significant snow arrives around the Thanksgiving holiday. With this in mind, Goodyear recommends that motorists shouldn't wait any longer to improve their traction on roads and highways this winter. It's not too late to consider a set of new tires for the family car or SUV.

Goodyear's TripleTred Technology tires feature three unique tread zones for superb traction. The Water Zone has a new silica-based compound that helps provide traction in wet conditions while also maximizing treadwear. The Ice Zone compound is comprised of polymers that help to provide enhanced low- temperature flexibility for excellent winter performance. Volcanic sand particles and fiberglass fibers create increased micro-textures for enhanced traction on icy or slick roads. The Outer Dry Zone features a rubber compound inspired by the technology used in Goodyear's ultra-high performance and racing tires. This compound helps provide superb grip on dry surfaces.

The "Goodyear TripleTred Traction Survey" was conducted by Marketplace Insights on behalf of Goodyear from Nov. 10-13, 2005. The on-line survey was completed with 400 qualified respondents. With a sample of this size, the results are accurate to within (+/-) 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level (or 95 times out of 100).

   Sampling of Key Findings from Survey:
   Q - Which component on your vehicle is most in need of replacement before

   Wiper blades              29%
   Tires                     18%
   Antifreeze                12%
   Battery                    4%
   Nothing needs replaced    37%

   Q - When driving in inclement weather, which is most important?
   Good tires                60%
   Good wiper blades         18%
   Cell phone                13%
   A map and clear signage    9%

   Q - Which is more important when driving on snowy or rain-slicked roads?
   Good tire traction             77%
   All-wheel or Four-wheel drive  22%

   Q - What is your favorite source for accurate weather forecast
   Internet              53%
   The Weather Channel   25%
   Local television      14%
   Radio                  6%
   Other                  2%

Goodyear is the world's largest tire company. The company manufactures tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in more than 90 facilities in 28 countries around the world. Goodyear employs more than 75,000 people worldwide. Find information about Goodyear at