Driving safely during the winter months is a top priority for instructors and their students. As a proud member of TyreSafe, MSA GB is committed to helping its members and students hit the road with confidence, even when the weather takes a turn for the worse. This guide emphasises the importance of tyre checks, maintenance, and the advantages of winter and all-season tyres.
The arrival of winter brings with it the potential for challenging driving conditions. Cold temperatures, icy roads, and wet surfaces can put even the most experienced drivers to the test. Instructors and students must be prepared for winter’s unique demands by ensuring that their vehicles are in optimal condition.
Tyre Checks and Maintenance
Regular tyre maintenance is a fundamental aspect of winter road safety. Here are some crucial tyre checks and maintenance tips, using TyreSafe’s A.C.T guidance:
Air pressure – The air pressure of each tyre should also be checked using an accurate gauge. Typically, car manufacturers recommend two different tyre pressures, one for light loads and another for when the vehicle is fully loaded. It’s essential that drivers adjust the pressures to accommodate the load they are carrying. These settings can be found in the vehicle handbook, on reputable internet tyre pressure charts such as the one at tyresafe.org, and often in the vehicle’s fuel filler cap or door sill.
Condition – with a visual check, looking at the overall condition of each tyre to see if anything might have penetrated the tread, such as nails or other objects. If any of these objects, cracks or bulges are present, the driver should immediately seek professional advice.
Tread – drivers should check the tread of their tyres to ensure they are above the UK legal tread depth minimum of 1.6mm. Ideally an accurate tread depth gauge should be used but if this is not available, a 20p coin can be used as a guide. Insert the 20p into the main sections of the tyre and at various points around the circumference – should you see the outer rim at any point, you need to have the tread depth checked as it
Other factors that may affect the performance of your vehicle’s tyres:
- Wheel Alignment: Proper wheel alignment ensures that your tyres wear evenly and your vehicle maintains stability in slippery conditions. Have the alignment checked regularly.
- Balancing: Correct wheel balancing minimises vibrations and promotes even tyre wear.
The Extra Risks of Winter Driving on Low Tread or Poorly Maintained Tyres
Driving with worn or improperly maintained tyres during winter conditions can be extremely hazardous. Reduced tread depth decreases a tyre’s ability to disperse water, leading to a higher risk of aquaplaning. This occurs when the tyre loses contact with the road surface and can result in a loss of control.
Moreover, tyres with inadequate tread offer limited traction on icy roads, making it challenging to brake and or steer effectively. Instructors should stress the dangers of driving on such tyres to their students.
Using Winter Tyres or All-Season Tyres
One of the most effective ways to enhance winter driving safety is by investing in winter or all-season tyres. These specialised tyres are designed to offer superior performance in cold, wet, and icy conditions.
– Winter tyres are specifically engineered to provide optimal grip in temperatures below 7°C.
– They feature a unique rubber compound that remains flexible in the cold, offering better traction.
– The tread patterns are designed to bite into snow and ice, improving stability and braking.
– All-season tyres are a versatile choice for areas with milder winters.
– They offer good performance in both summer and winter conditions, providing a balance of grip and longevity.
Switching to winter or all-season tyres is an investment in safety and peace of mind during the winter months. Instructors could educate their students on the benefits of these tyres and help them make an informed decision.
In conclusion, preparing your vehicle for winter, with a particular focus on tyre safety, is essential for a safe and stress-free winter driving experience. Regular tyre maintenance, checking tread depth, and considering winter or all-season tyres can make a significant difference in ensuring you and your students stay safe on the road, even when winter’s harsh conditions set in.
For further information visit www.tyresafe.org