British skiers driving to Europe can dramatically reduce the risk of an accident by making sure their car tyres are fit to tackle sub-zero weather conditions.
During the 2007-08 season, more than 175,000 skiers travelled to their destination by car. But their holiday can hit the skids if they are driving heavily laden cars with incorrect tyre pressures or low tread depth on icy, snow-covered roads.
TyreSafe chairman, Rob Beddis, 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 mandatory in Finland from 1st December to 1st March.
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.’