An Opportunity Missed?
As summer gives way to colder and wetter weather, a number of companies are offering advice about driving in worsening conditions. Two press releases received in the same week are typical; one was from Cooper Tire & Rubber Europe, warning of the increased danger of skidding and another was from ATS Euromaster, offering a free 10 point winter safety check to motorists.
Cooper had an impressive range of sources to illustrate that stopping distances double in wet weather; at 50 mph it goes up from 53m (175 feet) to 106m (350 feet) and that stopping distances increase even more when tyre tread depth is less than 3mm. Another interesting fact is that, of cars involved in accidents in wet conditions, 18.7 per cent slew across the road, compared to 10.5 per cent on dry roads. For motorcyclists, the figure is even higher, at 27.2 per cent.
Cooper suggests a number of tips for safer driving in the wet, many of which are commonsense such as checking tyre pressures and tread depth and keeping your speed down and maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front. The ATS Euromaster check also covers tyre pressure, tread and condition as well as battery, brake and exhaust checks.
Anything that encourages people to drive safely and check their tyres is to be commended, yet there is a feeling here of an opportunity missed – for quite some months now the collective UK tyre industry has been trying to promote the fitting of cold weather tyres for driving in temperatures below -7ºC, yet neither press release even mentions cold weather tyres. And this despite the fact that both Cooper and ATS’s owner Michelin produce such tyres.
From their tone, it appears that both press releases were predominantly aimed at the motorist and the non-trade press and it could be argued that, when it comes to winter tyres, there is an education job needed first among the tyre trade, or some sections of it. But is this a valid argument? After all, the people who will hopefully buy the tyres are the motorists and surely they need to be convinced of the need for, and the merits of, cold weather tyres? If a motorist is told that it would be advantageous to buy another set of tyres and wheels, it would be a help if he at least knew of the existence of such products.
Nobody would deny that educating the public into changing their tyres ready for winter is a task of Herculean proportions, but given that, is it not then even more vital to take every available opportunity to push the subject of cold weather tyres, be it to the trade, the press or to the people who we are hoping will buy them?