Winter tyres: advice for safe driving - Heading to the slopes: Are snow tyres or snow chains required to reach the ski resort?

Heading to the slopes: Are snow tyres or snow chains required to reach the ski resort?

Winter tyres Published the 06/02/2012 by Jack

Abundant snow has fallen in the mountains. You may soon be heading to the slopes and you may be wondering whether it is better to fit your car with winter tyres or if a pair of snow chains will do the job. In fact, you have no alternative: In the mountains, you need both!

Young couple with skis in front of their car Copyright © : iStockPhoto

In winter, the mountains are the kingdom of snow and ice, something we tend to overlook in lowland areas! Yet, a snow or ice covered road is dangerous:  Braking distances are more than doubled and grip is significantly reduced when cornering … So, how can you prevent your trip to the slopes from turning into a nightmare?

The first thing to do is fit your car with four winter tyres, often known as snow tyres. Their rubber is specially designed to remain flexible at low temperatures and their multi-sipe tread pattern maintains maximum grip on slippery roads. These tyres will help ensure a safe drive provided, of course, that you adopt a smooth and careful driving style.

But in the mountains, winter tyres may not be enough in certain situations. Particularly when driving over snow-bound mountain passes, or for the last few miles leading to the ski resort. A heavily loaded car, a steep slope, an unploughed road may make starting off or braking extremely dangerous. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have a pair of snow chains in the boot, even if your vehicle is fitted with winter tyres. If you see a sign on the side of the road indicating that special equipment must be used or if the weather conditions require it, then fit the chains on the drive wheels.

Finally, if you’re travelling abroad in winter, check local regulations for special equipment before setting off.