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Just as winter tyres guarantee safety during the cold season, summer tyres do the same when the weather is hot; this was demonstrated by tests carried out during Autopromotec by Assogomma and Federpneus, with several cars braking on dry and wet surfaces. These are the results

Mino De Rigo

FOR EVERY SEASON the proper tyre. That may sound banal, but practice and reality do not always correspond. After years of insisting on the need to mount winter tyres during the coldest months of the year for personal safety and that of others, through repeated information and awareness-raising campaigns that have hit the target at last, now it is equally important to convince drivers that the right time to mount summer tyres is just after spring. Feedback from actions in the field by retail tyre specialists shows that a large segment of people who changed to winter tyres do not mount summer tyres when the weather improves but prefer to continue driving with the same set.
This led to the new Assogomma and Federpneus initiative, the first in Italy, under the umbrella of the wide and comprehensive programme “Pneumatici sotto controllo” (keeping tabs on tyres), which aims to demonstrate that prompt seasonal changes are good sense and, above all, a guarantee of safety. The stage for comparative tests on identical vehicles equipped with summer and winter tyres was area 48 in the Bologna exhibition district during Autopromotec, the international automotive aftermarket exhibition. Perfect for the purpose, it was transformed into a crowded and colourful Motorsport Arena.

Revealing tests with a scientific approach
It’s a question of safety we said, but not only. When warmer weather comes, summer tyres guarantee better performance that is immediately reflected in our wallets, if it is true that, assuming regular maintenance,  they ensure even wear and lower consumption. In exactly the same way that the compounds and structure of winter tyres make them the optimal choice when temperatures drop to 7°C or below. But let’s get to the tests. They were organized with the essential contribution of the Centro Internazionale di Guida Sicura (the international centre for safe driving) directed by Andrea de Adamich, whose instructors drove the vehicles used for comparisons on dry and wet asphalt. Four identical pairs of different car models were equipped with the same brand of winter and summer tyres to measure and compare their performance during braking. The cars chosen were the 500 Abarth, Giulietta, Alfa Romeo Mito and Maserati Granturismo S, to guarantee an evaluation that covered vehicles of different types, categories, sizes and powers as well as different sizes of tyres.
Sizes 195/45 R16, 225/45R 17 and 205/45 R17 were mounted on the first three, while the Maserati had 285/35 R20 at the rear and 245/35 R20 at the front. The vehicles set off along a straight road lined with traffic cones that indicate a specific procedure by which braking -  during an emergency stop when the pedal is pushed down to the floor - is not influenced either by the driver’s response time or by the promptness of the vehicles’ braking system, which could have been adjusted differently even though they are all the same.

Safer when it’s hot
To dispel all possible doubts, each car had a blue-box, a satellite device that measures stopping speeds, times and  distances. Aimed at representing real, day-to-day driving conditions, the comparative tests were based on emergency braking at typical urban and suburban speeds of 60 km/h and 80 km/h. With characteristic summer temperatures constantly above 20°C and asphalt heated to over 30°C, what clearly emerged from the first day of the tests was the advantage of summer tyres, which guaranteed shorter stopping distances compared to winter tyres. Distances that in all cases make the difference between a huge fright with no further complications and colliding with the vehicle in front.
During the days that followed, temperatures had dropped to below 10°C, conditions that were undoubtedly exceptional on the eve of summer and reminiscent of winter.
However, apart from the type of vehicle and weather, the temperature always marked the boundary line between using winter tyres or homologated summer tyres. Which, when the weather is warm, unconditionally recommends the use of the latter to the total advantage of road safety.

Technical tests and educational seminars
Held during the five days of the Bologna exhibition, the comparative tests attracted hundreds of visitors who were able to watch the sessions from 10.30 to 12.30 in the morning and from 2.30 to 4.30 in the afternoon from a stand set up for the purpose. A commentator described each stage of the tests while instructors from the Centro Internazionale di Guida Sicura were divided into three groups and started up the carousel of cars. Some drove, one pair after another¸ along the straight test road, others concentrated on range-finding recordings or setting the references when braking ended: charts that would make the results obvious for immediate comparison. All sector professionals and retail operators were the guests of Assogomma and  Federpneus at the dedicated lounge, where they took part in educational seminars, refresher workshops and theme-based technical discussions, all organized by the associations, manufacturing companies and the Traffic Police. The lounge was a constant meeting point that was also used to illustrate the results of the last two years of work carried out side by side with Assogomma and Federpneus in favour of the tyre sector. Lastly, Assogomma’s presence at the fair was completed by an institutional stand for informing sector professionals about developments in regulations and any changes expected in the future.

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