October was Tyre Safety Month in the UK. There was a good reason for this. For many fleet drivers to get the optimum performance out of their vehicles, they should consider switching from summer tyres to winter tyres for November through to March.
For many European drivers, changing to winter tyres is second nature, but in the UK, it is still something that many people are undecided about. What, then, are the benefits of winter tyres for fleets?
Winter tyres use high-silica compounds that keep them flexible when temperatures plummet.
“Even the sturdier varieties of summer tyre found on four-wheel drives will soon harden in cold weather,” Azhar cautions, “which makes them lose their grip.”
Grip is, of course, essential for driver safety. Another feature of winter tyres that helps keep drivers safe is a specialised tread design. This disperses surface water and slush – two things there is an excess of in winter – using extra deep channels.
“Keeping vehicles from skidding on ice, or aquaplaning is essential for driver safety. All winter tyres have multiple indents cut into the tread block to give them more grip”
Until 2009, winter tyres were virtually unheard of in this country, but demand has gradually increased since then.
“Typically, they’re more expensive than summer tyres, but they are more resilient, especially when it comes to potholes,” Azhar remarks.
Winter Tyres, Fleets and Safety
Awareness of tyre compliance is lacking in many drivers, with a reported two thirds not knowing the legal tread depth. 40% have never checked their tread depth and 20% do not know how to.
At the same time, 80% of drivers are aware that when tyres are worn, their vehicle’s performance deteriorates, affecting stopping distances and braking especially.
“Is there a disconnect here, where people are aware of the requirements for tyre safety but aren’t prepared to act?” asks Azhar.
“For fleets, safety should be paramount, and considering a routine tyre change at the onset of winter might be one way of helping ensure it”
Many tyre experts think that the current minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm is not sufficient to guarantee safety.
“It’s also about getting the best use out of your tyres,” Azhar says.
“For fleets, tyre management is also about looking after the bottom line, and the better condition tyres are in, the more efficiently the fleet can run.”
“Tyre management is essential for fleet safety and efficiency, all the year round,” Azhar concludes. “A well-maintained set of tyres will give a higher mileage, and will help ensure essential fleet vehicles are not out of action for repairs.”
For related content, please read Is Low Tyre Pressure a Priority for Fleets?