Inchcape Fleet Solutions point to viability of winter tyres to increase fleet and driver safety
Recent research undertaken by Continental Tyres has provided results that state the fitment of winter tyres in temperatures below 7 degrees centigrade will reduce stopping distances and increase grip.
Considering the UK mean temperature has been at 7 degrees or colder for over 5 months every year for the past 50 years, this is a compelling winter tyres argument in itself.
It is unreasonable to expect one tyre type to provide high safety levels with annual temperatures ranging from +30 to -15 degrees centigrade, which is why specialist winter tyres have been developed over many years.
Continental Tyres identify several reasons why these types of tyres are so much more adept at handling cold conditions:
Tread compound – below 7 degrees centigrade, the tread compound in standard tyres begins to harden and loses grip. Because of their higher rubber proportion, winter tyres combat this by remaining flexible and grippy even at low temperatures.
Tread pattern – because of the wider grooves in winter tyres, snow is pressed into them, providing additional traction.
Sipes – these are a series of thin slits cut across a rubber surface to improve traction in wet or icy conditions. Winter tyres, as you would expect, have a higher number of sipes, which guarantee reliable braking and better acceleration.
Continental Tyres’ research also shows that braking distances are greatly reduced by using winter tyres in cold weather: travelling at 30mph in snowy conditions, the distance can be reduced by 8 metres; travelling at 20ph in icy conditions, it can be reduced by 11 metres – between 2 and 3 car lengths respectively.
Peter Eldridge, Inchcape Fleet Solutions’ Commercial manager, gave a ringing endorsement of winter tyre fitment, but conceded that businesses should ideally register an interest as early in the year as possible to ensure demands are met.
He said: ‘Winter tyres are irrefutably proven to increase driver safety in cold conditions. There is a clear link between the number of insurance claims made in the winter months and the drop in temperature.
‘The swap process is very simple. Typically, if one of our customers decides to make the switch to winter tyres, we would arrange, via our supplier network, for its fleet’s summer tyres to be placed in storage and winter tyres fitted in their place.
‘When the temperature rises again, it is simply a case of changing the tyres back over. There is a nominal fee attached to this service for tyre storage, management and fitment but this often fluctuates, due to raw material pricing.’
Mr Eldridge encouraged interested parties to register an interest soon to ensure, where possible, their needs are met: ‘Naturally it is best to make these arrangements earlier in the year, but we appreciate sometimes this is just not possible.
‘Approaching the winter months, we will do our utmost to accommodate our customers’ needs as best we can, but would stress the importance of getting in touch at their earliest convenience.’