With Britain in the grips of a winter that is actually relatively tame when compared with conditions often experienced in countries like Germany and the alpine nations, it is shockingly obvious that the UK’s roads are considerably more dangerous than those in Europe when they are covered with the same amount of snow and ice. Why?

The answer is that European drivers at the start of November remove the ‘summer’ tyres from their car and fit ‘winter’ tyres. When driving on snow the difference in performance of these tyres is blindingly obvious. How do we know? Last week we drove from Slovenia to the north of Scotland in deep winter conditions. This included treacherous roads laden with snow, rutted with ice, or covered with slush. Of course having two sets of tyres costs more up front but anyone that mentions cost is clearly missing the critical point – this is not a cost issue, this is about the safety of drivers and their passengers.

In the UK we simply don’t take this issue seriously. In Germany they take it so seriously that at the end of 2010 they made it illegal not to have winter tyres on your car during winter. The UK urgently needs to follow this hugely sensible lead. In the meantime if you want to minimise the risk of damaging yourself, your passengers and your car here are our suggestions.

1. Plan your journey. When driving across Europe during the winter use these charts as a vital planning aid for routing decisions. 

                     - Snowfall Animation Chart

                     - Surface Temperature Chart

2. Change your car tyres from ‘summer’ tyres – which is what almost every UK car is fitted with 12 months of the year – to ‘winter’ tyres.* To find the best tyre check out a tyre review site and then hunt down a deal. You will often find the best deals being offered in summer. 

3. If you never want to be stuck you need to go one step further – you need snow chains.* The simplest and best are unfortunately the most expensive. Swiss made Spike Spiders are snow chains that simply click onto a hub plate mounted to your wheels. Once fitted to your car it will drive like a tractor on roads covered with deep compacted snow or a substantial fresh snow covering and ice.

* If putting winter tyres on your car always check with your insurance company first that this is ok.

Oh and finally, have you noticed that in the UK some drivers have a fondness for 4×4 vehicles with huge wheels with low profile tyres? Having spotted some of these vehicles in the snow last week it appeared they may not appreciate how their wheel and tyre choice is putting lives at risk. 4x4s shod in winter tyres can be vastly superior to similarly equipped two wheel drive vehicles in snow. Unfortunately many 4×4 drivers fail to appreciate that their vehicle when fitted with ‘summer’ tyres is completely inferior to even the most basic 2wd vehicle shod in ‘winter tyres’ when temperatures are low and roads are white, rutted with ice, or even just slushy.  

Does your business supply winter driving equipment, vehicles, tyres? Weather2 forecasts can predict how weather will affect your sales and can also feature on your company website. contact us for more info or visit http://www.myweather2.com/business/

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