Goodyear reports on Lancashire winter tyre trial

For the last year Goodyear has teamed up with Lancashire County Council’s highways maintenance department to test a range of winter tyres in some of the coldest and slipperiest conditions found on UK roads. Goodyear’s UltraGrip winter tyres were fitted to the council’s winter gritting vehicles in late 2012 to see if they could improve safety and stability during the vital task of applying salt to the 1,550 miles/2,500 kilometres of roads in Lancashire that are treated within four hours of a freeze being forecast.

“For us it was a logical step to try winter tyres on our winter service vehicles,” reports Chris Grime, principal fleet engineer from Lancashire County Council. “The conditions these vehicles operate in offer extremely low grip. The road conditions in a week can often change between wet, dry, snow and ice, so it is important we have tyres that can cope with the changeable conditions. Before last winter we had never looked at the option of using winter tyres, but since testing them we have been really impressed with the performance they have delivered. Although we have always previously fitted an M + S [Mud + Snow] marked tyre, we have found the specifically designed winter tyre to be better. It took the steering and stability to the next level, removing a lot of the difficulty associated with winter driving.”

The benefits winter tyres offer are well-known; they ensure that vehicle performance is optimised when temperatures are low and when road conditions are affected by snow and ice in particular. Tyres react differently according to temperature, so specific compounds and tread patterns are necessary for such conditions. It is not just for safety reasons either; although good grip is of course essential for steering and braking control, at lower temperatures non-winter tyres do not have the same efficiency as they provide in their normal temperature range. Winter tyres are designed for optimum performance below 7 degrees Celsius. A more aggressive tread pattern is also necessary, not only for good grip in snow, but also on ice and to more efficiently clear surface water.

“We began the trial with Lancashire County Council last winter, using the Goodyear UltraGrip winter tyre,” comments Adam Stanton, product marketing manager at Goodyear. “All of our tyres go through extensive testing at our specialist test centres around the world, where the products are pushed to their very limits. However we really valued the opportunity to conduct this trial with Lancashire County Council – as it really gives a real world, day-to-day view. There was some treacherous weather conditions in the early part of 2013, which kept Lancashire’s gritters busy and out on the roads most nights. The wagon drivers fed back that they were surprised by the difference in grip and stability the UltraGrip tyres provided, some even commenting that it was like driving a 4×4.”

As a result of the successful trial last winter, Lancashire County Council is extending its relationship with Goodyear. The County Council is now looking to introduce a winter tyre policy for its gritting vehicles in a bid to ensure it is able to continue servicing the public to the best of its ability, through all the hazardous conditions that the Lancashire winter has to offer.

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