The loss of traction can have serious consequences. A heavy vehicle unable to start or maneuver due to slippery road conditions is a potential risk to road safety. Not to mention the possible effects it can to the operation, be it goods transportation, passenger traffic, or rescue service. Here is how to increase traction.
First, let us have a look at why we actually would want to increase traction.
Why do I need to increase traction?
1. When a vehicle loses its road grip and skids, or at the start and the wheels are spinning when throttling, traction must be increased. Here, sufficient traction is an absolute condition for controlling and maneuvering the vehicle.
2. In situations when there is a risk of encountering slippery conditions, increasing traction could be a wise precaution. Here, the increase of traction is rather for improving road safety and securing the vehicle's operative performance.
"For the driver, high traction is desirable. The higher traction, the better."
How to increase traction
Traction can be considered as a force in the tire footprint, and, accordingly, it's easy to believe that it’s all about the road surface and the tire surface. However, several factors affect traction. In the worst case, they can interact negatively and create a tricky and dangerous situation for the driver. On the other hand, if interacting positively, they combine into a system that increases traction – and improves safety.
Examples of factors affecting traction
• The material composition of the road surface and the tire surface, respectively
• The shape and texture of these surfaces
• The force pressing the surfaces together i.e., the weight of the vehicle
• Lubricants (or adhesives) at the boundary e.g., oil spill, ice, or sand
• The direction of traction (the available traction of a tire often differs between cornering, accelerating, and braking)
Other 'external' factors can also affect traction – or the probability of losing it. For example, an incorrect or bad vehicle suspension may add to losing traction in certain situations.
Out of these factors, most are given in a specific driving situation and cannot be influenced by the driver. But, some can actually be influenced like introducing an adhesive e.g., sand in the tire footprint. In some vehicle types, even the 'weight' could be influenced. Not the vehicle weight as such, but by lifting one rear axle, the remaining drive axle will get heavier pressure, and traction will increase accordingly (however, in some countries, this method for increasing traction isn’t permitted).
There is no perfect method to increase traction in all situations, nor is it reasonable to always carry traction aids optimized for all these situations. The right way to increase traction (and select the proper traction aid accordingly) will be a compromise for the driver to safely cope with slippery road conditions.
Browse our free online resource, Traction aids for heavy vehicles, to learn more.