2011 Police Tire Evaluation presents detailed statistical results of a project conducted in June 2011 by the Michigan State Police for the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)-National and funded by the National Institute of Justice. The report provides law enforcement agencies across North America with information to assist them in making informed decisions regarding replacement tires. Tire manufacturers included in this evaluation are Goodyear, Firestone, Cooper, Nokian, Nitto and Pirelli. All tires used in this evaluation were purchased from a retail tire store to ensure each model was an actual production version.
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Police patrol vehicles, by the very nature of their use, are subjected to much more severe operating conditions than the average passenger car. During the course of a vehicle pursuit or while responding to an emergency call, police vehicles are frequently operated at high speeds. The additional stress this places on all components of the vehicle are a key concern to the law enforcement community, as the safety of these components directly affects the safety of the officer operating the vehicle and the general public as well.
One of the most important components that affects vehicle-handling performance are the tires. Most commercially available tires are manufactured with normal, everyday driving characteristics in mind. As such, they tend to sacrifice higher end performance capabilities to provide a smoother, more balanced ride under normal operating conditions. While these tires are perfectly acceptable for the average motorist, they can have dangerous, and even deadly, consequences when installed on a police vehicle and subjected to high-speed operating conditions.
In the mid-1970s, NIJ published a report advising law enforcement agencies of the potential dangers of installing nonpursuit-rated tires on police vehicles. In the report, several case studies were reviewed that documented the catastrophic failure of bias-ply tires installed on police vehicles and subsequently subjected to pursuit operating conditions. As a result, most police agencies began to select and purchase tires that the manufacturer indicated were designed specifically for use on police vehicles.
In 1993, in response to a request from the Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Advisory Council (LECTAC), NLECTC (then known as the Technology Assessment Program Information Center), developed a comparative testing protocol to evaluate the performance characteristics of the various police pursuit-rated tires commercially available to law enforcement agencies. This protocol was developed with the assistance of tire manufacturers and experts in police vehicle evaluation and testing. Evaluation programs were conducted in 1993, 1997 and 1999. In these evaluations, distinct performance strengths and weaknesses were identified for each brand of tire. For example, certain tires that exhibited outstanding performance on dry road surfaces were found to exhibit poor performance on wet road surfaces. Conversely, tires that performed well on wet pavement performed poorly on dry surfaces.
This information, which was previously unavailable, is critical to police agencies in their selection process. Based on this information and prevailing climate conditions, agencies may find that one tire may be a more appropriate selection than another. This information is also critical in driver training, as instructors can advise students on the specific performance characteristics of the tires currently installed on the vehicle and provide appropriate advice on what the officer should expect under certain operating conditions.
In July 2001, NLECTC sponsored the fourth evaluation of patrol vehicle tires. Four manufacturers submitted tires for testing: Goodyear, BF Goodrich, Bridgestone/Firestone and Continental General. Additionally, a fifth (nonpolice pursuit-rated) brand of tire was evaluated to demonstrate possible variations in overall performance between tires designed for passenger-car use and those designed for police patrol vehicle applications.
Alex Sundstrom, Testing Coordinator
Phone: (800) 248-2742 or (301) 240-6749
Last Updated: April 15, 2015