Winter Tyres

It's common sense to use them

3 December 2010

Guidance from some insurance companies is deterring many drivers from using winter tyres that could improve safety and reduce accidents in the severe snow conditions of past days, says the AA.

Drivers have been contacting the AA regularly over recent days to complain about the problems they have encountered trying to fit winter tyres to their cars. With this the third successive severe winter with snow, the AA is calling for greater clarity on the value and use of winter tyres.

Key obstacles to winter tyre take-up

  1. Refused insurance cover by some insurers
  2. Increased premiums by some insurers
  3. A shortage of winter tyres in some areas


"Winter tyres have a particular benefit for drivers who encounter widespread snow on the roads in the places they travel or have to drive in these conditions because their work demands it. With minor roads largely ignored by snow clearance teams and the severity of snowfalls often leaving roads precarious, winter tyres have proven a godsend for many drivers," says Edmund King, the AA's president.

"Evidence in recent days shows that winter tyres may now have to become a recognised part of the armoury for drivers driving on persistently snowbound roads, and in low temperature, wet and icy conditions. Drivers should be encouraged to use winter tyres to improve their chances of making journeys safely. For many, winter tyres are not a fad, but a necessity."

There also appears to be some confusion generated from a Government statement yesterday in the Commons which seems to confuse winter tyres with studded tyres.*

Read comprehensive AA advice on winter tyres »

Questions in the House of Commons (2/12)

* Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): Abandoned cars and accidents add to the chaos. I understand that once the temperature goes below minus 7C, the tyres that we use on our cars are no longer appropriate and safe. Is the Secretary of State having discussions with car manufacturers and automobile organisations about encouraging people to change over to winter tyres, as they do on the continent?

Mr Hammond: We have looked at the issue, and in fact David Quarmby addressed it. The use of winter tyres – snow tyres or even studded tyres – and snow chains is appropriate where people drive for long periods through the winter on compacted snow; it is not appropriate in the situation, as in the UK, where snow is on the ground for relatively short periods. Winter tyres wear out very quickly on normal road surfaces and cause significant damage to those surfaces, so they would not be appropriate in the UK situation.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


3 December 2010