Up to 38 million drivers facing major safety risks this winter

Halfords demonstrate how to check and inflate your car tyres

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New analysis has revealed that 94 percent of British motorists could be using tyres that are not fit for the current and worsening driving conditions nationwide. The Met Office currently has four yellow weather warnings active affecting parts of northern and southern Scotland and parts of southern England and Wales.

It concerns ice, snow and rain, with some travel disruption expected, with longer journey times likely affected.

Continental Tyres estimate that more than 38 million motorists are driving on summer tyres designed for warmer conditions.

Generally, tyres can be categorised into three sorts: summer tyres, winter tyres and all-season tyres.

Summer tyres are the dominant variety in the UK, but according to experts, that could leave motorists exposed at this time of year.

The technical requirements of winter tyres are highly complex with advanced compound technology. 

This includes sophisticated polymers, resins and fillers that ensure tyres remain flexible at low temperatures alongside intricate pattern design to improve grip in snow and ice.

Steve Howat, General Manager for technical services at Continent Tyre Group, warned that using summer tyres in winter can lead to increased braking distances and reduced handling performance.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he added: “If travelling abroad there are legal requirements in many European countries instructing drivers to have winter or all-season tyres fitted to the car. 

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“Look out for the three peak mountain snowflake symbol on the tyre and tyre label; this is a good indication of whether the tyre will comply with these regulations.

“Many people in the UK don’t realise that what they consider to be ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ tyres are in fact specifically designed for driving in warm climates. 

“In this country, we’re best served by an all-rounder that can cope with the elements all year round.”

More than 20 European countries require drivers to have winter tyres fitted, especially between November and March.

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Tourist destinations like France, Iceland and Germany all have requirements for drivers in certain, more mountainous regions of the country, and can risk fines if they do not comply.

All-season tyres provide impressive grip and excellent performance in all types of conditions, from cold and wet winter roads to dry and warm summer roads.

Features to look out for include a directional tread pattern, which channels water and slushy snow from the centre out to the sides of the tyre as the car travels forwards. 

There are also tiny grooves in the tread – known as sipes – that will open up under the weight of the car and help it to grip snow and ice.

Mr Howat added: “Whether you’re heading abroad or staying at home after Christmas, wintry conditions on the roads could present a challenge on both sides of the Channel.

“Think of the conditions you commonly experience in the winter – for instance in northern areas of the UK where there are typically more severe winter driving conditions, winter tyres are the perfect solution. 

“In more milder areas of the UK, all-season tyres are an ideal option.

“It’s not too late to change your tyres after Christmas, and if you’ve got fairly worn summer tyres with a shallow tread, bringing forward their replacements might be a good idea.”

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