Such evasive driving techniques, of course, ravage tires, making them more susceptible to blowouts. That was never a big problem in his U.S. locations, where Scotti has always replaced tires as soon as the slightest bit of wear appeared. But Scotti became more concerned about blowouts when he was invited to a South American country years ago to witness its defensive driving training program. While a sports utility vehicle was in mid-spin, a tire flew off the rim and the vehicle flipped over. Though no one was hurt, the incident led Scotti to take some preventive measures in his own operations. "There's only one in a thousand chance that this would happen," Scotti says, "but [I felt that] if we could find something at a reasonable price we could put on our cars, we should do it."
Scotti also knew that over the years a few of his cars' tires had blown out while the cars were nearing the end of their spins. "If [the blowouts] had occurred half a second before, the cars could have flipped," he says. This experience drove home the importance of shoring up the tires. Moreover, as a defensive driving expert specializing in thwarting attacks on vehicles, Scotti sought a tool that would enable a car with a flat tire to get out of a dangerous situation.
Scotti found a few helpful products. One in particular, Rodgard by Hutchinson Industries, Inc., of Trenton, New Jersey, used a "composite roller system" in the wheel and tire assembly. When a tire blew out, the car would ride on the roller even after the tire burned away. The system enabled the vehicle to travel about ninety miles on a flat tire, Scotti says. While he often recommended this product to clients, he didn't install it on his own cars because of price (about $350 per tire).
Scotti also stayed away from that product because it was too heavy for his training vehicles. As Scotti explains, every car has "unsprung weight," essentially the weight of the wheel and tire. When that weight is too much, it produces the sensation of "heavy" steering and lag. And according to the laws of physics, an object that spins is heavier than the same object at rest. With that product installed, the cars would become too heavy for students to spin.
Scotti says that while in England in the early 1980s, he tested a wheel band manufactured by Tyron UK Inc., which was specifically for use on NATO and British Defense Ministry military vehicles. It was a metal band that filled the "well space" on both steel and alloy single piece rims, creating a platform on which a deflated tire could run while locking the tire to the rim.
The product impressed Scotti, but it was unavailable in the United States. Then, in the early 1990s, Scotti heard that the Department of Energy was using the Tyron bands on trucks and vans, and he decided to perform his own testing. The product did well. He then asked Tyron U.S.A., Inc., of Somerville, New Jersey, for a set to test on cars (as opposed to trucks and vans). He started testing the bands in early 1997, and determined that they did indeed keep a car stable and functional during a blowout.
A person has only fractions of seconds to decide how to avoid or get away from an attack, Scotti explains. Having the bands if a flat occurred at the time of an attack would help the driver retain maneuverability during that crucial time.
Scotti decided to measure the handling ability of a normal car with a seasoned driver against the same driver and car but with a flat tire. He was amazed at how much worse the handling on the car with the flat was. When the same test was conducted on a vehicle with a flat fitted with a wheel band, performance dramatically improved.
As part of the tests, Scotti mathematically determined the last possible point at which a driver in a vehicle with a fiat tire fitted with a wheel band could safely veer away from an obstacle. When he tested the cars with bandless flat tires at the same speed and distance, the cars either collided into an obstacle or went out of control.
Although the Tyron band couldn't keep a car running on a flat tire for as long as Rodgard, Scotti determined that for his purposes the Tyron bands' performance in steering, cornering, and braking were more than adequate to get a vehicle out of a kill zone. (Tyron says its product will allow a vehicle to go from five to twenty miles on a flat - depending on tire age, vehicle speed, vehicle weight, road conditions, and weather conditions - but Scotti did not test that claim.)
What truly set Tyron apart from other products, however, says Scotti, was price. A set of four wheel bands sells for $300.
Soon after the test, Scotti installed Tyron bands on the cars in his U.S. training facilities in Florida, Michigan, and Rhode Island. So far, the product has worked as intended. On the five or six occasions that Scotti's training cars have gotten flat tires, the bands have worked well. Not a single car has flipped.
The one drawback Scotti has discovered is that the product can be difficult to install. "You need to practice putting them on," he explains, adding that in his experience most garages can't put them on either. But he adds that the company has a good manual and helpful customer service.
Also, Scotti says, he wouldn't use the product as a long-distance run-flat. As mentioned, the bands will keep a tire usable for twenty miles at most. For clients such as those in Colombia and Kazakhstan who "might have to drive forty or fifty miles to get anywhere near civilization," Scotti would recommend the Rodgard system.
(For more information on Tyron: Brian Kearney, director of marketing, Tyron U.S.A., Inc., 888/TYRON-US; fax: 908/218-5644. For more information on Rodgard: Phil Hall, director of marketing, Hutchinson Industries, Inc., 609/394-1010; fax: 609/394-2031)
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|Title Annotation:||use of wheel bands to prevent car spins after a blowout|
|Author:||Gips, Michael A.|
|Date:||Jul 1, 1998|
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