By Mary Rose Roberts
A 2014 polar vortex has created perilous road conditions across the U.S. — from sheets of ice on Atlanta highways to avalanches on mountain passes—increasing the life-safety risk to police officers working weather-related incidents or driving at high speeds in pursuit of suspects. A new retractable-stud tire technology from Nokian has the potential to greatly improve vehicle performance on icy roads, protecting officers driving in adverse conditions and allowing them to focus on incident response.
While still in the beta phase, Nokian Tyres’ Hakkapeliitta 8 weather tires with retractable studs could be a valuable safety feature for police vehicles. When approaching icy roads, officers would be able to push a button to activate and deactivate studs from inside their cruisers.
When activated, the studs promise to hug icy and snowy roads — and provide an extra safeguard to stave off vehicle-related officer deaths. A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the average number of law enforcement officers killed annually in motor vehicle crashes was 44 in the 1980s and jumped up to 62 in the 2000s.
Nokian Tyres has not released a statement about the future of the Hakkapeliitta 8 with retractable studs and whether it will come to market in 2014, or be immediately available to law enforcement. But it’s an exciting potential innovation for officers working in unpredictable and extreme weather conditions.