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Why is Friction Important for Road Safety?

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Whether you’re driving a massive transport truck or a compact car, friction is an extremely important safety factor to consider. We all know the feeling of tyres skidding over the road, and it’s one feeling that we’d all like to forget. Losing control when you drive can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for everyone involved, and friction is a critical component of keeping everyone safe.

Friction Matters

Let’s get a better understanding of the physics of friction, and see how this relates to asphalt and tyres. Friction isn’t the force that moves your car forward along the road. Instead, friction is the force that resists this forward movement.

And yet, rather than being a barrier, friction is crucial to your car’s forward motion. When you drive, the engine generates a force that travels to the tyres in order to propel your vehicle forward. Friction is the force that is responsible for opposing the tyre’s rubber to keep it from sliding on the surface of the road, giving you the traction you need to move. When you apply the brakes, friction brings your car to a halt. However, friction is not uniform — there are in fact two types of friction;

  1. 1. Kinetic Friction – This is the frictional force between two surfaces that are moving relative to one another.
  2. 1. Static Friction – This is the frictional force between two surfaces that arenot moving relative to one another.

Static friction is what keeps your vehicle from sliding away when you park it on a hill or slope, while static friction is what acts upon your wheels when your car is in motion.

Friction Across Different Road and Weather Types

Now that you know that friction is what is responsible for keeping your vehicle on the road, you have to know which road types it works best on. As a general rule, friction is more effective on rough surfaces. These rougher surfaces provide more grip for your vehicle, resulting in a more secure ride.

If there is water on the road, this creates a layer between the road surface and the tyre of the car itself. This reduces the amount of friction and makes the vehicle more difficult to control. If there is ice or snow on the road, the reduction in friction is even more severe, as the molecular structure of the frozen water creates an extremely smooth surface, with grip almost impossible. This makes it more difficult for your car to stop when you hit the brakes, and it’s more difficult in general to control your vehicle, even at relatively low speeds.

We want everyone to stay safe while they’re out and about, no matter the weather. So, slow down, pay attention to the road and enjoy your ride.