Last year there were 653 tire-related crashes in which 246 people were injured or killed in Connecticut, according to the UConn Crash Data Repository.

AAA is using those numbers to get out the message of how important it is to have good tires on your vehicle.

With nearly 800,000 crashes occurring on wet roads each year, AAA urges drivers to check tread depth regularly, replace tires proactively, and increase following distances significantly during rainy conditions.

“Tires are what keep cars connected to the road,” Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman, said in a release.

“And wear has a significant impact on how quickly a vehicle can stop in wet conditions.”

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Driving on wet roads

Because of the driving danger in wet conditions, even with new tires, AAA recommends drivers:

Avoid using cruise control;

Reduce speed; avoid hard braking.

Increase your following distance to allow for space to the car in front of you;

Gently ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want to go if you hydroplane. When the wheels gain traction, you’ll be in control of the vehicle. Don’t brake forcefully since this may cause a skid.

Even the most advanced safety systems rely on a tire’s basic ability to maintain traction, Mayko added. “AAA’s testing shows that wear has a significant impact on how quickly a vehicle can come to a stop in wet conditions to avoid a crash.”

Driving on worn tires at highway speeds on wet pavement increases your average stopping distance by 43 percent, compared to new tires, according to AAA.

In wet conditions, tires can completely lose contact with the road and skid, also known as hydroplaning. The depth of a tire’s tread plays a significant role: the lower the tread depth, the more likely a car will hydroplane

Mayko said most states have a legal minimum tire tread depth and current industry guidelines frequently recommend drivers wait until tread depth reaches 2/32nd of an inch to replace tires.

However, AAA feels even this is too little tread to drive on safely and recommends motorists replace tires when they have 4/32nd of an inch of tread remaining

In Connecticut, drivers aren’t allowed to drive on tires with tread depths below 2/32nd of an inch. To easily determine that measurement, slip an upside-down quarter between your tire grooves, and look at Washington’s head. If you can see all of it, it’s time to shop for new tires.

While the AAA research found that tire performance does vary by brand, price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. In fact, worn tire performance deteriorated significantly for all tires tested, including those at a higher price point.

The AAA research also found that compared to new tires, tires with a 4/32nd of an inch of tread depth:

Increased stopping distance by an average of 87 feet for a passenger car and 86 feet for a light truck; and

Reduced handling ability by an average of 33 percent for a passenger car and 28 percent for the light truck.