Don’t trust the trees….
On the Northern hemisphere autumn has been around for a while and that always raises the question: “are leafs slippery?” . Why such an obvious matter remains the subject of debate? The lack of proof, apparently. Look online, look in libraries (does one still go there?) and you’ll find very little data about how brutal a pile of leafs can be for your traction. And your ride for that matter.
We can all confess to driving through a pile of leafs unnecessarily and we can all confess to the fact that it didn’t feel like the smartest thing to do. Some guys at Ford Europe apparently had the same idea and decided to set out and turn this subject into figures, rather than unbiased logic. They only partake in the last-mentioned when launching a new flagship. Ahum.
So how does one measure traction on leafs? Are leafs slippery? It comes down to friction or μ (mu-split). Which basically translates into the amount of traction, albeit between wheels, messes with the direction you want to go in.
” It was a fun experiment to do, but we’re talking about a serious problem here. A lot of people know to be more careful when it’s snowing. But a lot less people apply the same amount of caution when driving on leaf-covered roads, when they can be equally slippery.” – Eddy Kasteel, Ford Europe Engineer.
Ford found out that leafs can be as slippery as snow can be by testing grip-levels on their track in Lommel (BE). They threw all the leafs they could gather onto the track and measured the amount of friction, comparing it to regular road-surface traction. Their measurements showed a value of .3 and .4, the lower the number the lower the friction. Leaving me to conclude that driving through a pile of leafs is like playing a form of Russian Roulette.