The case for winter tyres
Most think winter tyres are only good for the occasions when the roads are covered with snow and ice but modern tyre development has meant that the latest products are a whole lot more versatile.
In many other European countries it is a common practice for drivers to fit cold weather tyres in late Autumn and revert back to summer tyres in the late spring. So why is this not the case in the UK?
Recent prolonged bad winter weather coupled with significant advances in tyre technology has started to change the UK motorists' attitudes towards winter tyres.
The perception that winter tyres only give benefits on snow or ice is years out of date as modern rubber compound technology and advances in tread pattern design mean the modern-day winter tyre also provides higher levels of road safety on cold and damp roads too.
Much progress has been made over the last 25 years and tyre technology is now at an advanced level.
The benefits are persuasive - substantially increased mileage performance, less weight, reduced rolling resistance and considerably shorter braking distances on both wet and dry roads.
The number of accidents caused by wet road conditions increases in winter by a massive 267 per cent.
As vehicle design and technology has advanced, tyre design has had to do the same but it is unreasonable to expect one tyre type to provide high safety levels with temperature ranges such as plus 30 degrees Celsius to minus 15.
This is why specialist tyres have been developed over many years. To enable them to develop their potential to the full, there is one crucial aspect - they have to have balanced characteristics.
Ambient temperature is a deciding factor on which tyre type provides the highest safety for road users.
When ambient temperatures fall below seven degrees, the molecules in tread rubber progressively harden and freeze.
This means that the tyre is less able to adapt to the contour of the road surface, which in turn reduces grip levels.
With cold weather tyre rubber compounds, there is a higher proportion of natural rubber and coupled with extended use of silica technology, they minimise the hardening effect at low temperatures.
This allows the tyre to key into the road surface, resulting in higher grip levels. Together with highly developed tread patterns, the combination is such that no summer tyre can match.
Despite the fact that 60 per cent of people feel scared or uneasy when driving in winter conditions, fully 75 per cent of these same people would not consider fitting winter tyres.
It seems crazy, especially when the latest winter tyres generally outlast conventional summer tyres by thousands of miles.
Many car manufacturers and tyre centres are now promoting the use of winter tyres and even offer to store the set you are not using free of charge until you want them refitted.