Winter does not have to surprise drivers every year – there is an antidote for traffic jams and fender-benders on wet and slippery roads: homologated winter or all-season tyres. It is now – when in the morning temperature drops below 7ºC, and the queues to auto workshops are still short – we should arrange a seasonal tyre change. Waiting for the first snowfall is not only dangerous, but also bad for our wallets. In cool temperatures, the wear of summer tyres accelerates, and winter tyres – i.e. tyres with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol – will perform just as well as summer tyres even on wet and dry roads at temperatures below 10ºC. On a wet road – at 6ºC and braking at 80 km/h – a car winter tyres are going to come to a halt 7 meters before a car with summer tyres!
There are more and more vehicles on Polish roads – they are also faster and heavier than those used 20-30 years ago. All this reduces the safety margin for each driver. We need better grip. And that is what good tyres provide – the tyre industry has been investing in research for years, thanks to which modern homologated winter and all-season tyres are able to ensure safety in a wide spectrum of weather conditions in autumn and winter. A modern winter tyre is not only a tyre for heavy snow – it will perform well even on dry or wet roads, even if the temperature during the day fluctuates around 10-15ºC.
Let us remember that the only official symbol of winter and all-season tyres that have undergone tests confirming their performance in winter conditions – is the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol. The frequently occurring M + S symbol is nothing more than the manufacturer's declaration that the tyres have a mud-snow tread. However, these tyres do not have the softer tyre compound of winter tyres.
– We should arrange to change tyres when the temperature regularly drops below 7ºC in the morning. Summer tyres become harder at such temperatures – which causes the tread to wear off faster – and are no longer able to provide adequate grip. In homologated winter tyres and all-season tyres – i.e. tyres with a symbol of a snowflake against a background of mountains – tyre manufacturers use a softer rubber compound in the tread that does not harden even at the lowest temperatures, and a special tread that, thanks to its construction, efficiently drains water and “bites” into snow. Even if the first snow has not yet fallen, below 7ºC a set of winter tyres will perform much better on wet surfaces than a summer one – states Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).
Some drivers still think that they save money by not changing tyres. It doesn't work that way – driving on summer tyres in winter reduces the car's fuel efficiency and shortens the period of their safe use. In the worst case, driving on tyres that are not adapted to road conditions can lead to a tragic accident. In the event of a collision, the insurer may refuse to pay damages, blaming the driver for gross negligence and failure to adapt tyres to road conditions.
– Saving is a frequent recurring argument when talking about changing tyres. But let’s think about what hurts our wallets more – regular seasonal change of tyres or potential costs resulting from an accident and the need to buy new tyres more often? – adds Piotr Sarnecki.
According to the report of the European Commission, the use of winter tyres reduces the risk of an accident by as much as 46%1. Very often you can come across the opinion that modern safety systems with which cars are equipped are sufficient to avoid accidents and tyres do not play a major role in safety. This couldn’t be further from the truth – tyres are the only part of the vehicle that comes into contact with the road while driving. In the autumn/winter season, only tyres with winter homologation guarantee adequate safety and grip. When driving 29 km/h in snowy conditions on winter tyres, the braking distance can be reduced by up to 50% when compared to summer tyres. Thanks to winter tyres you have better traction and you will brake faster on wet or snowy roads in a passenger car, SUVs or vans – and that can save your life and health!
Find out more ptia.org.pl
1 European Commission, Study on some safety-related aspects of tyre use, December 2014