Fleets must do groundwork before opting for winter tyres
There has been a lot of debate recently about the need for cold weather tyres in the UK. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, for example, is recommending their use in the wake of a Government report, which says that industry needs to be better prepared for the winter months.
However, many fleet managers may be reluctant to suggest to their drivers that they switch to the special tyres because of the additional costs involved in having two sets of tyres.
One way to assess the need and the cost is to use fleet software to model a typical situation and calculate what the additional costs are compared to the savings that can be made in terms of reduced accident costs and, possibly, lower fuel bills through reduced skidding.
Luke Hicks, business executive at Mycompanyfleet, the automotive arm of HR software provider, NorthgateArinso, said there was a detailed cost-gain analysis to be applied before meaningful decisions could be taken by fleet managers.
'It isn't a "cut and dried" decision,' he said. 'Fleet managers have to balance the additional tyre costs against the likelihood of increased accident rates without the tyres, which have been proved to be more effective in braking and steering in both cold and wet weather conditions.
'The best way to do that is through modelling the situation using fleet software to identify the true costs and true savings that can be achieved. But if switching to cold weather tyres saves one accident from occurring, then the tyres more than likely pay for themselves,' he said.
Cold weather tyres come into their own when temperatures fall below 7 degrees Centigrade as they contain more natural rubber and advanced silica compounds, which improve grip and reduce tyre hardening.
'Seven degrees centigrade is a fairly typical winter temperature that most of us encounter out on the roads every day and currently we are seeing much lower temperatures than that. With such a cold start to the winter, cold weather tyres may well have a real role to play this winter for many fleets,' Mr Hicks added.