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Dated: 23 December 2010

Winter Tyres: Transport Secretary Forced To Backtrack


Three weeks ago Transport Secretary Philip Hammond made a rather brash and arduous statement in the House of Commons. In this statement said that he believed winter tyres were inappropriate for use in the UK because the snow ‘is on the ground for relatively short periods.’ However, as you can imagine, this was met with a rather big backlash from many tyre and car safety organisations.

Ever since his initial statement in the House of Commons, arguing that winter tyres and snow chains were only needed in countries where drivers had to cope with long drives through snow and ice, the Transport Secretary has had to deal with criticism. The main claims being that he had a complete lack of understanding about the modern winter tyre.
Most recently, Mr Hammond has been forced into trying to explain away his initial statement. He now concedes that winter tyres do handle better in icy conditions, but still refuses to consider making the fitting of winter tyres mandatory in the UK.

In a new statement, he said, “I was trying to convey that in the circumstances of the UK, and given the cost of fitting winter tyres, I do not believe it appropriate to mandate their use.

“However I am happy to confirm on the record that for those who can afford winter tyres – not just the cost of buying them, but the costs of putting them on and changing them back at the end of winter, and of storing the summer tyres – they provide significant additional grip for motorists in such cold conditions.”

When talking about tyre chains, he remarked, “It is illegal to use snow chains on roads that are not covered in compacted snow, because they cause considerable damage to the road surface.”

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