WILL WE BRITS WISE-UP TO WINTER TYRES?
SALES OF WINTER TYRES are on the increase in Britain. But consider this: in Germany last year, 19.3 million winter tyres were bought. In the UK, just 40,000 were purchased by motorists living in a country where temperatures and driving conditions are similar to most of Germany.
Greater awareness and legislation are responsible for the difference, but with figures like these, it's no wonder we see newspaper headlines counting the chaos on major arterial road routes closed by cars stuck in relatively light snow. Yet it could be avoided.
There are at least 100 days of the year in England and Wales - and 150 days of the year in Scotland - when temperatures fall below 7C, especially early in the morning. Normal rubber is much less effective at and below this level. When the roads are wet, cold and greasy, grip levels on normal tyres are significantly reduced though motorists often fail to compensate in their driving behaviour, a dangerous combination.
"In Germany, winter tyres represent 40 per cent of the annual market. In the UK it is just 0.16 per cent but there's every reason for British motorists to consider winter tyres," said mytyres.co.uk director, Rainer Binder.
"Colder conditions mean summer rubber doesn't mould itself to the road as efficiently because it becomes less flexible. Winter tyres have more silica in them, increasing suppleness. Combined with deeper sipes (cuts and grooves) to displace larger amounts of lying water quickly, they offer a greater degree of grip, though, of course, they cannot make up for poor quality driving!
"There is a now outmoded impression in the UK that winter tyres are unstable at speed, when on dry winter roads, because the deeper sipes would cause the tread to squirm, reducing safe speeds. Manufacturers have solved the problem by better designed tread block patterns."