Invest in scarves, gloves ... and tyres
FOLLOWING last year's prolonged period of snow and ice, many motorists are thinking about fitting winter (or cold weather) tyres to their cars this year. This is something new for Irish motorists as winter tyres are a relatively recent arrival on our shores.
European motorists, particularly in the north of the continent, are used to changing to winter tyres at this time of year. Many motorists then "lodge" their all-weather tyres in "tyre hotels" until it is time to change back to all-weather tyres come springtime.
Research has shown that below the threshold of 7ÂºC, the rubber compound in our standard tyres has a propensity to harden, lessening their grip with the road and thus, increasing stopping distances. Under these conditions, it can take a car up to five metres more to stop when travelling at 100kmh -- even without there being ice or snow on the road. Winter tyres feature a special silica and natural rubber-blended tread compound, which allows the tyre to better retain its road-gripping ability at low temperatures.
According to Paddy Murphy of Continental Tyres Ireland, "People need to stop associating winter tyres just with snow. A winter tyre is not uniquely for use in freezing, snowy conditions but becomes more effective than a standard tyre as temperatures drop below 7ÂºC. And when you think how often we get temperatures below that threshold, you will see why it makes sense for Irish motorists to fit winter tyres."
Sales of cold weather tyres have risen by more than 85 per cent in the past six years across Europe. In some countries, such as Austria and Switzerland, sales of cold weather tyres are now higher than those of standard tyres.
In Austria and Switzerland, they account for 64 per cent and 61 per cent of the market respectively. In Holland, where the climate is similar to Ireland, the use of winter tyres has increased dramatically in recent years.