We've all had that moment of waking up, seeing the roads outside covered in snow, and feeling apprehensive about driving to work.

It’s usually at this moment that you start to wonder whether you should have invested in winter tyres.

It’s important to understand that it doesn't necessarily have to be snowing or icy to need winter tyres. Figures have shown that UK drivers are 6 times more likely to have a road accident in the winter than any other time of the year.

Of course, this risk increases when snow, ice or sleet is involved, but winter conditions in general, such as rain and precipitation, still represent an area of need for winter tyres.

Most UK drivers are unaware of the effectiveness of winter tyres. In many countries, changing to winter tyres is the norm.

Places such as Norway and France have legalities over their drivers fitting winter tyres. Many areas have ‘tyre hotels’ which store summer tyres during the winter months, and vice versa, making it as convenient as possible to own seasonal tyres. The change to winter tyres is often routine to countries that experience cold, snow or ice in the winter months.

Cold weather tyres use a softer rubber compound, with the surface of the tread blocks being covered with little jagged slits (known as sipes). They also have deeper tread grooves than most tyres. They are extremely efficient at gripping to cold and damp roads, below about 7 degrees C.

The secret to their enhanced traction on wet and ice-covered surfaces is the sipes, which provide a bigger surface area to grip the road. Winter tyres are also designed to gather a snowy ‘in-fill’ in the tread grooves, and the sipes help to grip on loose snow.

Many emergency services, utility companies, delivery firms and company car fleets are adopting a cold weather tyre policy.

Whether or not you decide to go for winter tyres, there is some advice that you can follow to ensure that you stay safe on the roads in cold conditions:

  • Reduce speed and avoid harsh braking and acceleration on wet surfaces
  • When at low speeds, use second gear (as opposed to first) to avoid spinning
  • To slow your car, change down a gear and use engine braking. If you do need to apply the brakes, do so gently
  • When starting off or going up-hill, use a higher gear to avoid spinning

Want to know more about HiQ's range of winter tyres? Check out our full range of tyre brands here.