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Drivers have become much more aware of the need for winter tyres in recent years. They appreciate the enhanced grip and improved safety and performance. Gone are the days when winter tyres were only fitted in regions with major snow falls such as Scandinavia and the Alps. Now drivers are embracing the benefits of winter tyres when driving in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius.

As more and more drivers opt for safety, they swap their summer tyres for winter models to enjoy maximum performance. Despite all the evidence, however, more than half of all drivers still persist in driving on summer tyres throughout the winter, with all the accompanying risks.

Many accidents happen in the winter months due to cars driving on the wrong tyres that slip on ice or snow. At lower temperatures winter tyres provide much more grip and a considerably shorter breaking distance. The result is that you are far less likely to bump into someone in wintry conditions.

Winter Tyre Basics

The following is some of the basic information about winter tyres, what they are, why they are good and how they work.

Winter tyre performance

Winter tyres will give you a perfect grip and maximum traction on wet, snowy or icy roads at temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. The special sipes provide excellent traction on snowy surfaces, ‘gripping’ into the snow. Snow and mud is effortlessly shaken off from the tread. Due to the silica-base mix, the rubber remains soft and flexible and offers maximum grip even at low temperatures.

'Snowflake' Coding

Winter tyres are not only distinctive because of the sipes in the tread. There are also markings in the sidewall engraving that set official winter tyres apart from the rest. In addition to the standard M+S-coding, official winter tyres are also provided with a special snowflake symbol. This industry implemented standard indicates an official winter tyre has met all requirements.

Winter tyres are only granted this symbol when they have passed a series of brake test on snowy surfaces. All winter tyres supplied by Tyremen have passed this testing method and have the snowflake symbol in addition to the usual M+S-coding.

Rubber Composition

Winter and summer tyres differ essentially in two main areas, tread design and the composition of the rubber. The rubber composition of a winter tyre is softer at lower temperatures than that of a summer tyre. This means that the tread blocks are more flexible and the tyres generate more grip on the road. Thanks to sipes that run across the tread, the tyre grips more easily on a snowy or icy surface. The rubber is much softer and it is recommended to change to summer tyres in the warmer months. The rubber composition of summer tyres is harder and more suitable for higher temperatures.

Tread Design

The tread of a winter tyre is characterised with grooves in the tread blocks, the so called sipes. These sipes make the tyre stick to the road surface as the tread of the tyre deforms when the wheel starts to turn. The sipes provide grip when braking as well as accelerating. The sipes on the outside shoulder often run across the blocks while sipes are also provided in the drive direction (zigzag) to increase stability in bends.

And the result of all this...

The number of accidents with personal injury have dropped by 50%.

Studies by the Germany Ministry for Statistics into the causes of accidents with personal injuries reveal a clear trend since the introduction of compulsory winter tyres. Compared with 2005, before the compulsory winter tyre regulations were introduced, accidents with personal injury dropped in 2008 by more than 50%. During winter conditions with snow and ice, 12,539 accidents occurred in 2005 compared to only 6,033 in similar conditions in 2008!

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