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Bridgestone Tires Take the Terror Out of 2AM Calls

by Courtney Caldwell with
Tire Review Contribution by Shannon Caldwell

The phone rang at 2am waking me from a deep sleep. I leapt out of bed with adrenaline pumping through my veins as if I had just run a race propelling me at warp speed to follow the ringing in the dark. It’s amazing I didn’t break a leg or smash into a wall. No one ever calls me at two in the morning unless it’s an emergency or someone dropped dead so my instincts, and the sick feeling in my stomach, led me to believe the worst — someone I love had been hurt or died. My imagination ran wild with all the scenarios of what it could be in the brief five seconds it took to find the phone. It seemed like an hour. In my sleepy groggily voice all I could say was “what’s wrong,” already thinking ahead about trying to find a flight at that hour of night to reach my loved ones back east to be by their side through whatever darkness lurked. I had hoped it was a wrong number and had preferred to be pissed that someone had scared the living daylights out of me for no good reason.

Bridgestone Dueler A/T 695
Bridgestone Dueler A/T 695

At the other end of the phone I heard my daughter, a grown woman, crying uncontrollably with noticeable fear in her voice. Whatever it was I knew we could fix as long as she was alive and well but first I had to calm her down. “Shannon, honey, take some deep breaths and tell me what’s wrong,” I said, trying to soothe her with the same gentle tone I used when she fell off her bike thirty years ago. No matter how old they are; they never stop being our babies, do they?

My next question was, “Are you hurt, baby girl?” I asked trying very hard to hide my own fear. As she started to regain her composure, she eked out, “No mom, I’m not hurt, but I thought I was going to die tonight and I’ve never been so scared in my life.” In the split seconds that followed a thousand thoughts raced across my mind of all the worst possible situations.

“B, tell me what happened so we can fix it. (I have a lot of pet names for my daughter) Do you need me to come out there? I’ll get on the next plane to come home if you need me," I offered. Independent and fierce, even when emotional, she declined my offer as she continued to pull herself together; her breathing slowing; her voice returning to calm; and the fear dissipating. How I hate not living near her when she’s upset!

Regaining her composure she was now able to verbalize her plight with much more clarity. On that unseasonably cold rainy night the road on which she lives had frozen over followed by a light flaking of snow, hiding the black ice beneath. Her apartment, which is at the end this road, is at the top of a very steep hill. She had always felt secure taking the hill up or down with her small SUV but this night was different. Shannon explained that she was aware the roads were slippery and had been driving cautiously all the way home. By the time she got to the bottom of the hill she came to a stop to evaluate the snow and how slick the hill might be, unaware of the layer of ice hiding beneath.

Having attended the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving several years before to enhance her driving skills when road testing vehicles for Road & Travel Magazine (and give me peace of mind), Shannon had learned all about road hazards that most of us never learn in high-school driver’s ed.

After careful evaluation she decided to take the hill in a traversing manner, like a snow skier does going down hill, driving back and forth across the road instead of going straight up. It was late with no traffic in either direction. With her apartment being the last on the left of a dead-end road oncoming car was not an issue. The street lights brightly illuminated her pathway ahead as they reflected off the newly deposited white snow. She felt confident she could negotiate the hill safely.

First left then right then left again Shannon cautiously climbed the hill with ease. However, when she reached the top she straightened her wheels, perhaps too soon, and suddenly the SUV lurched backwards sliding down the hill and picking up speed. Shannon put her Bondurant skills to use turning the steering wheel in the direction of the slide to gain control but nothing worked. The SUV gained momentum and down she slid backwards until finally coming to a stop in the same place she started. Her control, both emotionally and physically of the vehicle during those moments prevented her from hitting any parked cars or telephone poles. As the truck came to a stand-still adrenaline rushed through her body leaving her to ponder the seriousness of what had happened.

Shaken but unscathed, she parked the SUV at the bottom of the hill and managed to pull herself up the icy sidewalk hanging on to parked car door handles so she wouldn’t slide down the slippery hill. Once inside her apartment, the gravity of her experience hit her hard and fear took over. She called me to share what seemed like a near-death experience.

Bridgestone Dueler A/T 695
Shannon with her new tires

After hearing the details of her story I knew Shannon had done everything right. She didn’t panic, one of the leading causes of car accident deaths. She traversed the hill properly and didn’t lose her composure when losing control of the vehicle as it slid downward and backward. What I realized right away, however, was that Shannon had the wrong tires on her truck. Had she had the right tires with excellent traction for all-weather conditions she would have found herself in a completely different situation. This needed to change.

By the end of our conversation, Shannon had calmed down and was finally able to go to bed for a peaceful night’s sleep. I, on the other hand, got on my laptop and started researching all the tires that would be ideal in a situation such as this and found that Bridgestone put out an all-weather tire known for its ‘tight grip’ and superior traction capabilities in all sorts of weather conditions; the Dueler A/T 695. The next morning, I placed an order to have five Bridgestone Dueler tires shipped so she could have them mounted on her SUV as soon as possible. The tires arrived by the end of that week. Four were mounted and the spare placed in the back. Shannon was safe again and I was worry-free, at least on that subject.

I asked her to review and make notes on all the differences she felt driving on her new Dueler’s, which she did. Here's what she had to say.

Bridgestone Dueler A/T 695 Review

By Shannon Caldwell

The differences in my new Bridgestone all-weather tires vs old tires turned out to be significant. I was able to drive up and down the steep hill to my apartment without anymore challenges no matter what the weather conditions thereafter. I also noticed a big difference in highway handling as well as a huge reduction in road noise. Clearly, the noise-optimized tread design provided a smoother and quieter ride without sacrificing the traction or wear life of the tires.

Not only did I notice a marked improvement in the sound quality of my radio due to the lack of road noise but also noticed how much better I could hear my passengers. With the raised white lettering, it felt like I was driving a brand new vehicle because of how sporty the Dueler’s looked on my SUV.

Between Michigan and RI, where I commute several times a year for RTM, there are a lot of back country, snow packed roads, some of which have narrow, hair-pin twists and turns, which in a high-profile SUV can be challenging with body roll. I noticed a significant difference in how the tires gripped these sinewy curves making me feel more confident than I did before the Bridgestone tires were put on my truck.

It doesn’t matter how well a car is made or how expensive or inexpensive it is. If it’s not riding on the best tires, especially those that are conducive to the constantly changing year-round weather conditions, you put yourself and your family at risk and in danger every time it rains or snows. No one is immune from such danger when riding on shoddy tires. -- end --

Back to Courtney...

My confidence in Shannon's driving ability never waned as she had come out the top in her class at the Bondurant Race School and proved to be an excellent and cautious driver. The tires on her SUV, which were not suited for all types of weather, are what failed her.

As parents, there’s nothing more worrisome than when our kids are out on the road, no matter what age they are. We know the dangers that lurk about, and we know that anything can happen at any time. For me, putting my most precious cargo on Bridgestone’s all-weather radial tubeless Dueler’s not only put Shannon on a more secure path to safety, but it also provided me with greater peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.  

So the next time the phone rings at 2am I know it won’t be Shannon calling to tell me she was almost killed in senseless accident. Hopefully, it’ll instead be to tell me she’s just won the lottery and plans to take car of me in my old age!

By the way, Bridgestone offers a teen driving school, Driver’s Edge, which is a must-do for your near-driving teen or even if he or she is already on the road. For more information on Bridgestone's teen driving course and when one will be in your town, click here.