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Study highlights benefit of cold weather tyres during commuting hours

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Temperatures dropped below seven degrees Celsius (the temperature at which cold weather tyres are most effective) during prime commuting hours on 173 separate days between October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, according to ATS Euromaster.

The figures cover temperatures in 10 major UK cities from 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm. 

The detailed weather analysis also revealed that parts of the UK were covered under a blanket of snow for 44 separate days during the six month period.

ATS Euromaster says that the figures, which it commissions annually from the Met Office, highlight the importance of fitting cold weather tyres, as they offer improved grip, handling, cornering and reduced braking distances when the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius, which it did for 95% of the six months measured.

Peter Fairlie, group sales director at ATS Euromaster, said: “The UK faced one of the coldest winters in recent years and driving conditions have been treacherous for many motorists travelling on roads covered in ice and snow.

“In fact the UK only experienced nine days out of the whole six month period where cold weather tyres wouldn’t have made driving safer in at least one of the 10 major cities we studied.

“For winter 2012/2013 ATS Euromaster ordered in excess of £10 million worth of cold weather tyres – 60% more than the previous year, and we have seen strong demand for these tyres, proving how valuable they are at helping motorists keep safe when it is cold and in adverse weather conditions.”

City by city analysis

Of the 10 cities analysed, Newcastle upon Tyne recorded the highest number of days when commuter time temperatures dipped below seven degrees Celsius with 162, compared to the 129 reported in ATS's 2011/2012 winter weather study. 

Aberdeen had the second highest number with 159 days, 41 days more than last year.

London was the city with the fewest days, with 120, but still accounting for 66% of the six month period.

Newcastle was also the city with the deepest level of snowfall, with 25cm being recorded on  January 26, 2013, while Aberdeen had 12 days of consecutive snow covering in January 2013.

The month with the highest average number of days recorded below seven degrees Celsius during prime commuting times was March 2013, with 30 days. 

December 2012 was the second highest with 27 days, while October was the lowest with 15 days, but still more than double the number 12 months earlier.

Early adopters

ATS Euromaster launched its cold weather tyre service in April 2010, and take-up of the seasonal tyres has continued to grow among retail customers and fleets.

Fairlie said: “It’s now the exception, rather than the norm, to find a supermarket home delivery or ‘blue light’ fleet not fitting cold weather tyres to the majority of its vehicles. 

"These organisations have led the market in becoming early-adopters, closely followed by utilities fleets and other businesses and individuals which can’t afford for vehicles to be parked up during a harsh winter.

“A lot of customers were sceptical about changing tyres at first, but the frequency with which we are having harsh winters reinforces the safety and mobility benefits, and explains why take-up is increasing every year. 

“Detailed temperature analysis like this also illustrates why cold weather tyres are beneficial from early October through until late March, and not just when the roads are icy or covered in slush and snow.”


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  • GrumpyOldMen - 17/05/2013 12:31

    If leasing companies would adjust the rentals slightly and allow the fitment of cold weather tyres, the take-up would be huge. Making customers pay for winter tyres when the maintenance element includes "summer" tyre life that the customer won't be using is lamentable.

  • KD_Boss - 17/05/2013 12:41

    Like what I read, but not many people know that you need to notify the insurance company for changing the tyres and they then increase the cost of the insurance for that vehicle. Those who do not notify their insurance companies could end up with a void insurance cover

  • Jon - 17/05/2013 14:01

    I'm sorry, but cold weather tyres are such a scam, a clear and obvious way for tyre manufacturers to increase tyre sales. it is a classic ploy, create fear, then offer to sell a 'solution' to assuage the fear. Yes, roads get more slippery in icey conditions, yes, tyres may not reach optimum temperatures in cold weather, yes, aggressive tread patterns may improve grip in snow... But buying a tyre because manufacturers have made you believe that it will magically transform your car into some ubersafe grip monster that laughs in the face of ice is utter nonsense at best, and criminal deception at worst. The simple reality is that we ALL modify our driving to account for conditions. If it is icey, we are correspondingly careful, same goes for snow. The tests have shown that winter tyres are at best, 10% better in snow, no better in ice, and no better in rain. However, when we drive in snow, we drive really carefully and having found out how slippery the car is, we drive below that threshold. We'll do the same irrespective of the tyre. If we decided to drive 'normally' because of our magic tyres, we'd crash pretty much instantly. So we drive carefully, below the cars 'slip threshold' and give ourselves more space between us and the car in front... The safety margin is created by THE DRIVER, not an extra 10% of snow grip. What is worse is that fitting these tyres is HIGHLY likely to increase your chances of an accident for the simple reason that safe in the knowledge that you are now 'safe' you will subconsciously drive FASTER to 'risk-compensate'. Furthermore, the cost of buying and fitting the tyre is significant, and one presumes that most people will then drive the damn things through the summer, where the compounds are inappropriate, prematurely destroying them while losing grip, before replacing them next winter... We are potentially talking about a faster, confident that road conditions are fine), they are not optimised for the conditions. The alternatives are is to either change tyres twice a year, discarding the 'old' ones, buy a spare set of wheels to keep your 'other' tyres on, or pile up a set of used tyres in your house....So which one will you do? The waste of natural resources is criminal. there is no question AT ALL in my mind that every survey done will show no reduction in fatalities or indeed accidents, in fact I think it's extremely likely to show an increase, and it will be a colossal waste of money and resources to boot. Rest assured, If I ever see a car fitted with winter tyres for sale, I'll walk away because the last thing I want to do is have to fit four new tyres within 6 months...

  • Gordy - 17/05/2013 16:13

    Perhaps Jon would like a free invitation to a winter driving course in Canada / Iceland / Norway or anywhere in Europe where it is mandated winter tyres should be fitted for winter. Perhaps Jon accepts that the German equivalent of BSI has faked it's data. Perhaps Jon would not advocate the use of the 4mm minimum tread depth marker and the 1.6mm marker on winter tyres and would always run his tyres down to 1.6mm to save rubber waste? Does Jon know how braking distance increases MASSIVELY when tyre tread depth drops below 3mm, let alone at 1.6mm. Perhaps Jon would like to meet with trading standards and complain and have refunds issued to everyone who has been sold winter tyres. Or, perhaps Jon would like a free set of winter wheels and tyres, identical size, to fit onto his car to compare the difference. I can say having travelled around the world for the last 20 years UK drivers on the whole DO NOT modify their driving technique to compensate for the weather whereas European drivers cope far better in similar conditions. I can say that giving your car increased traction allows the car to remain in control without ABS or other systems intervention. It is true the tyres cannot defy the laws of physics but I am sorry to break the news to Jon it is also a fact that winter tyres DO increase grip. The humble tyre is probably the most important item on a car; without grip it doesn't matter how many wheels are driven, you will skid. PS my insurance company does want to know when I rotate, but my premium is unaffected. Perhaps you could persuade your insurers that the tyres are an additional cost to increase safety and should if anything attract a discount. Anyone else contemplating purchasing winter tyres for next season after reading this forum, please, please stick to the facts. If your fleet manager would indulge you and your colleagues and put you onto a winter driving course where you can compare back-to-back identical vehicles shod without and then with winter tyres, you will never look back.

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