Recent independent research by Audi UK has revealed that just one in five motorists in the UK think it is important to swap their existing car tyres for winter tyres.
Those of you who take your car abroad during the winter months know that in many countries and regions throughout Europe, winter tyres are mandatory. And if you are heading off to a ski resort for a skiing holiday, it’s only sensible to have winter tyres on your car, as they can often negate the need for snow chains.
However, here in the UK there is no legal requirement to fit winter tyres and new research has revealed that 61 percent of the UK drivers taking part in the survey said that they had no plans to switch to winter tyres this winter.
In fact, 44 percent of those who responded said that not having a legal obligation to fit winter tyres was enough to convince them to pass up on the added safety and protection these tyres offer. Given the cost-of-living crises, the impact of the cost of buying and maintaining an additional set of tyres was the spanner in the works for 40 percent of respondents. 22 percent said that the potential difficulties of storing the wheels and tyres out-of-season was the main impediment to having a set of winter tyres.
Despite the more recent milder winters here in the UK, the temperature can still drop well below freezing for extended periods and the performance of conventional tyres can be noticeably impaired even at temperatures that are regularly recorded during a typical UK winter. The relatively hard rubber compound of tyres softens to enhance grip as their temperature increases during usage. However, when the temperature gets below 7°C, the tyres cannot absorb enough heat and grip is diminished, which also impacts braking effectiveness.
Due to their special rubber compound, winter tyres offer maximum grip during wet, icy and snowy road conditions, thereby greatly improving stopping distances compared with conventional tyres, and as a result maximising driving safety.
Interestingly, if you happen to own an Audi, an increasing number of Audi Centres can offer customers the option to store their wheel and tyre sets in ‘Tyre Hotel’ facilities so that they can be conveniently swapped as the seasons change and solve the problem of taking up space at home.
James Allitt, a member of the Leadership Team, Audi UK, commented:
“The safety benefits of winter wheels and tyres are considerable from temperatures below 7°C – regularly seen in the UK as the winter months roll in.
“Our research highlights misconceptions among UK drivers about their merits, and also understandable concerns about the cost and inconvenience of ownership, and I hope we’ve gone some way towards addressing these misconceptions. Fundamentally, though, I firmly believe that any driver able to make the switch to winter tyres won’t ever regret doing so when they feel the difference they can make.”
Road Safety Week, which takes place every November, is led by road safety charity Brake and brings thousands of schools, organisations and communities together to share important road safety messages. And according to Mary Williams OBE, CEO of Brake:
“It’s really important that drivers make sure their vehicle is prepared for winter weather. At this time of year, there are often additional road hazards due to debris, ice and rain, increasing risk. Every death and injury on roads is a tragedy, and Brake cares for the families bereaved and injured through the National Road Victim Service. Road Safety Week is an opportunity for us all to think about the victims and start putting safety first. By making sure our vehicles are winter-tyre ready, for example, we are doing something positive that protects our families and those around us and stops these horrifying and preventable crashes.”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Audi UK