By Denna Bowman
It’s almost time to pack the salopettes for the Easter term skiing trip!
But British skiers driving to Europe must also take time to check their tyres to reduce the risk of an accident on their journey to the slopes.
Vehicle owners must make sure their tyres are prepared ready to tackle sub-zero weather conditions, according to TyreSafe.
During the 2007-08 season, over 175,000 skiers travelled to their holiday destination by car. Skiers risk an abrupt end to their trip if driving heavily laden cars with incorrect tyre pressures or low tread depth on icy, snow-covered roads.
Rob Beddis, chairman of TyreSafe, warned: ‘Driving in snowy mountain regions requires a good level of tread depth to maintain traction with the road and stay in control of the vehicle
‘In certain European countries it is a legal requirement to fit cold weather tyres. British holidaymakers should be careful to check the legislation of their destination country and any they drive through on the way there before leaving, in order to avoid costly penalties or invalidating their insurance.’
Popular skiing destinations such as France, Austria, Germany and Italy all recommend the use of cold weather tyres, while in Scandinavia cold weather tyres are recommended in Norway and Sweden and Finland.
Cold weather tyres contain a higher quantity of natural rubber compound, which allows them to retain their flexibility on frozen roads. They also contain many tiny cuts in the tread which help the tyre to absorb snow, rather than slide over it. Whether driving on normal, ‘summer’ tyres or cold weather tyres, making sure that the tyre has a sufficient amount of tread depth is fundamental to braking and driving safely on wet and icy roads.
Mr Beddis added: ‘Checking the tyre pressure for their vehicle when fully laden is also an important consideration when driving to a ski resort, as it may be necessary to increase the pressures to support the increased load of the vehicle.
‘Many motorists neglect to adjust their tyre pressures to take account of heavy skiing equipment and extra passengers, which can lead to a build-up of heat inside the tyre as it strains to perform under the additional weight. This could eventually result in a blowout, putting themselves, passengers and other road users at risk.’
Motorists who are in doubt about driving abroad in cold weather should contact their travel agent of holiday rep for further advice.