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Drivers yet to get to grips with winter tyres when abroad, says Motor Ombudsman

Drivers yet to get to grips with winter tyres when abroad, says Motor Ombudsman

A total of 87% of drivers in Britain are unaware in which countries in Continental Europe winter tyres are mandatory once they cross the Channel, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman.

At a time when many motorists look to make plans to drive abroad for the Christmas break and the start of the ski season, the latest research of more than 1,400 car owners in Britain comes as part of the automotive dispute resolution’s provider’s newly-launched campaign to increase consumer knowledge of winter tyres, and to highlight the importance of having them fitted at one of the thousands of reputable businesses in the UK accredited to its Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

Although winter car tyres are not a legal requirement during the onset of snowy and cold weather that sometimes sweeps the UK, they are in several countries on the continent, including those located in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

In addition, the laws differ as to which time of the year they are compulsory, and whether they are mandatory for only driving in wintry conditions.

However, the study revealed that only around one in 10 (13%) people knew that they would need to change their car tyres to be legally compliant at their destination.

Furthermore, of the individuals surveyed, less than a third (28%) stated that a winter tyre was most effective in temperatures below seven degrees.

However, around six in 10 car owners were au fait about the advantages of winter tyres when the mercury dipped, whilst a similar proportion (61%) were able to identify how they varied from summer equivalents.

From those who were able to state how the tyres differed, 89% knew that the grip level was improved in colder weather. More than half of survey participants explained that they delivered shorter braking distances in colder temperatures (55%), with just over one in three individuals (34%) having observed that a winter tyre featured different sidewall symbols (a three-peak mountain insignia and the letters M+S) to that of the summer tyre commonly seen on UK roads.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “The research paints an interesting and contrasting picture of the nation’s familiarity of winter tyres.

“On the one hand, they are knowledgeable about the merits that winter tyres offer in more challenging conditions, but on the other, there is significantly less understanding of what the laws are when heading abroad.

“This therefore reinforces the need for car owners, before they set off on their journey this winter, to spend time doing research and to make sure that they are prepared to avoid falling foul of the law, which ultimately compromises safety. In addition, it’s just as important that motorists visit a reputable garage, such as one accredited to The Motor Ombudsman, that is qualified to fit them and to provide the right guidance to meet the needs of customers.”

To view The Motor Ombudsman’s video on ‘Getting to grips with winter tyres’, and to find out more about some of the frequently asked questions about winter vehicle maintenance, visit The Motor Ombudsman’s dedicated page at: https://www.themotorombudsman.org/useful-information/motoring-advice/winter-driving/winter-tick-list