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SAFE WINTER 2012/2013
Inverno in Sicurezza” (safe winter) is the Keeping Tabs on Tyres initiative that focuses on winter driving and the importance of having the correct equipment from a legal and road safety point of view

Paolo Castiglia

SAFETY and legality in winter. This is what Assogomma together with Federpneus and the customary total collaboration of traffic police Polstrada, are preparing for the cold season, when tyres return to playing a decisive role when it comes to road safety and more.
One of the first clichés that Assogomma wants to dispel, and over which it has been fighting for years, is that winter tyres are needed only when there is snow: “Winter tyres”  – explained the campaign organizers – “are vital for the entire season and not just when there is snow: they are the best possible answer throughout the cold season, when mobility is at greater risk due to adverse weather conditions, cold, ice, frost, rain and snow”.
It is true that “their performance is enhanced on snow, with braking distances shortened by up to 50% compared to summer tyres.  But winter tyres also shorten braking distances on wet roads and in low temperatures”.
A winter tyre is recognized by the legal M+S marking on the sidewall. “Frequently, the M+S marking required by law” – explained Assogomma director Fabio Bertolotti – “appears together with another marking showing three mountains and/or a snowflake; this is the manufacturer’s mark that indicates the high performance of the winter tyre”.
Ten years ago, the winter tyre market was limited to the mountain areas or where heavy snowfalls are a regular occurrence: they were products that substituted the studded tyres of distant memory”  - Fabio Bertolotti continued.  “In fact  in 2005-2006 sales of changeover winter tyres amounted to one million units out of a total market of over 25-26 million. Only 5 years ago it was virtually a niche market. Over the past two years, the market has grown significantly and now stands at 6.5-7 million units. The forecasts for the coming months, crisis permitting, indicate further growth with quantities that could reach 10 million units”  – Fabio Bertolotti continued. “This exponential and continual growth of the “winter” market is explained by the product’s technical value. Winter tyre users recognize that there are obvious safety advantages, continue to use them and talk about the validity of the product”.
Through the various supranational institutions at European level, work is being done to ensure an amendment to the law will legally recognize these markings.
It should be remembered that Italy is considered a “best practices” nation at European level with regard to tyre-oriented surveys and road safety projects. As far as the compulsory equipment regulation is concerned, the change in terminology and equivalence with “chains on board” allow owners and/or road management firms to introduce compulsory equipment regulations for a specific time period that applies whether or not there is snow.
Fines will be issued by law enforcement agencies for the non-observation of these regulations. They can also prevent a vehicle from continuing its journey until such time as it has been equipped with winter tyres or snow chains. Last year, numerous provinces, municipalities and motorways introduced specific regulations that made the use of winter tyres or chains compulsory. From this point of view, Assogomma’s Tyre Manufacturers’ Group is committed again this year to systematically updating users on its website,, which will inform them about the various measures in relation to their area of application and relevant duration.
Every year,  Assogomma and Federpneus prepare material regarding driving in winter regulations and about the performance of winter tyres. This year, the leaflet and counter display distributed to tyre specialists are included in this issue of the magazine: the leaflet is attached and the counter display is published in the centre pages of the magazine and can be used as a poster.

• The highway code and checks
A vehicle that is correctly equipped is the first stage of a safe journey” – said Roberto Sgalla, director of Servizio Polizia Stradale – “In collaboration with Assogomma, since 2003 we have been promoting targeted safety campaigns that check tyre condition, pressure and wear. Our commitment will be increased with the arrival of winter, when rain and snow make roads slippery and tyres play an even more important role”.
Again this year, Traffic Police patrols will carry out widespread checks that the current laws are being upheld, to the advantage of safe driving at a time of year when adverse weather conditions make mobility difficult. The New Highway Code has acknowledged the importance of this product as the key to improving road safety. In fact, amended article 6, paragraph 4, states that “…vehicles must be equipped with or have on board anti-skid devices or winter tyres for driving on snow or ice …”. By making this amendment, the legislator has acknowledged the change in technology and manufacturing by accepting the term “winter tyres” rather than “snow tyres” given that the product performs better in the cold season, and not only on snow. Moreover, the law has introduced the equivalence of winter tyres and “chains on board”, without the limitation “when there is snow”.

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