THE RIGHT WINTER "SHOES" FOR OUR CARS
“Inverno in sicurezza” campaign
As temperatures drop, the time for seasonal replacements draws closer. Once again, the “Inverno in Sicurezza” (Safe Winter) campaign – promoted by Assogomma and Federpneus – will promote both the advantages and benefits of using winter tires during the cold season
Winter is fast approaching. No, this is not a dark omen, just an undeniable fact. Therefore, as we start putting away our sandals and flip-flops making space for closed shoes and galoshes, the calendar reminds us that along with the dropping temperatures, the rain and the first light sprinkling of snow, it is time to change our car’s “shoes” as well. In fact, starting November 15 all the way until April 15, on most country roads ( and in some cases even urban areas ) of many Provinces and towns winter tires and snow chains on board will be mandatory.
Consequently, millions of motorists in Italy will be called on to act upon what is considered to be a worthwhile and well established habit by some, and an expensive inconvenience by others, but one that represents, for one and all, cars included, an investment on personal and family safety. This is the firm belief of Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma (Rubber and Plastic Federation) an association that along with Federpneus (National Association of Tyre Specialists), has been promoting the systematic use of winter tires with its “Inverno in Sicurezza” campaign. “The correct winter equipment allows all motorists the opportunity to safely face the coldest months of the year”, explains Bertolotti. “Driving with tires suitable for the rigors of the winter and in good conditions, promotes safety and compliance to the regulations that will be enforced from mid-November, optimizing performance and costs”.
Higher performance and safety with suitable “shoes”!
The whole point is about facing any season with the right equipment. No doubt about it: and not only with snow and rain, as temperatures start to drop, winter tires can make a real difference in any condition. This was confirmed by accurate and repeated tests, promoted over the years by both Assogomma and Federpneus. The different technical tests indicate that, the consistent use of winter tires with temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, reduces by 20% the braking distance of a motor vehicle traveling at a speed of 90 kilometers per hour on a wet road. In case of snow and with temperature close to zero, the same vehicle traveling at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour sees its braking distance reduce by an impressive 50%. In other words, the use of suitable winter tires during the cold season provides tangible help when a driver needs it most, namely when the weather and road conditions may be particularly critical, and the unexpected or the slightest distraction while driving can be costly indeed.
Promoting new technologies
And it was precisely due to this consideration, along with the urgency of spreading greater information and awareness on the subject, that about 12 years ago the “Inverno in Sicurezza” campaign was born. "We realized that when it came down to "winter tires", most drivers had the "classic" knobbly snow tires in mind", remembers Fabio Bertolotti. "There obviously was a woeful lack of knowledge about the great strides made by the industry in terms of technology, especially on winter tires. Therefore, we understood the importance of communicating not only to drivers, but also to local governments as well as the highest institutions and to the media the qualities and benefits of using this kind of product during the cold season, and explain the differences between winter and summer tires". Assogomma was thus among the first associations to be contacted to offer their contribution, promoting what was soon to became one of the industry’s largest campaigns, stimulating the necessary legislative developments.
Steady commitment and initiatives in support of road safety
Over the years "Inverno in Sicurezza" promoted a number of initiatives, events and test sessions with the precise purpose of giving clear indications as to the expected behavior, in case of cold, rain, frost, snow and ice, of each different type of tire - summer, winter with M + S markings as well as M + S marked tires with 3PMSF symbol (see box).
In addition, each year hundreds of thousands of brochures, explaining how to recognize a winter tire, describing its features and benefits, and providing practical advice on how to go through winter in safety and full compliance to the laws, are then distributed through the industry’s mainstream media and thousands of specialized retail and service outlets around the country. "The role of the dealer is and has always been strategic," says the director Assogomma. "Awareness and knowledge have spread along with the product itself."
In order to inform citizens about traffic laws and decrees relating to driving in winter conditions – which can be issued by both governing bodies and road authorities in compliance to a precise Decree by the Ministry of Road and Infrastructures dated January 16, 2013 – pneumaticisottocontrollo.it (a 15 year old initiative created to supply correct information about the best and safest use of our tires) represents a truly useful service. In the “Decree Area” of the site, in fact, a complete, updated and free of charge list of the regulations currently enforced in a number of Provinces and cities is available.
Not a double cost but a cost estimate
"Inverno in Sicurezza" has certainly played a central role in increasing product knowledge and awareness of what motorists have to face when deciding whether or not to equip their cars with winter tires during the coldest months of the year.
Nevertheless there are many who think that seasonal tire changes are a nuisance, and above all a needless cost. People, especially in times of crisis, pay greater attention to what happens in their pockets rather than what "might happen if ...". "The economic side of things has always been considered a possible restraint", says Fabio Bertolotti. "However, a double set of tires should be considered a cost estimate rather than a double cost". A recent study by the Polytechnic of Turin confirmed that: considering the entire life cycle of a car, a double set of tires would actually represent a saving, in both relative and absolute terms. When winter tires are used, the summer set is "at rest" with an obvious reduction of wear and tear, and vice versa. Moreover, if properly stored, tires do not suffer from any deterioration or alteration that may compromise performance.
Not to mention that the two seasonal visits to the tire fitter will provide also a good opportunity to check the condition of the tires and the inflation pressure, thus optimizing both tire and fuel consumption with clear benefits for the wallet.
"We are convinced that prevention is the best strategy when it comes to safety," says Fabio Bertolotti. And prevention means starting a journey wearing “shoes” that allow us to negotiate, without unnecessary risks, or worries the many kilometers ahead.
It’s easy to say winter tire…
Once they were called “knobby” tires, especially suitable for a skiing weekend and mainly designed to deal with heavily snow-covered roads. Nowadays we know them as winter tires, a technologically advanced product that through special compounds, structure and design represents the ideal solution to drive safely not only on snow-covered roads, but one that guarantees excellent performance and driving comfort even when temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius, the road is frozen or very wet due to a heavy rainfall.
At a glance tires, both summer and winter, may look alike. The main difference in fact lies under the surface, in the compound and tire structure. Distinguishing a winter tire, however, is easier than one might think. In fact, the M + S symbol (which stands for "Mud + Snow", or "mud and snow"), imprinted on the sidewall identifies it as a winter tire. This marking is a declaration made by the manufacturer, certifying and guaranteeing the winter qualities of the tire. The initials M + S may also be flanked by a symbol of a mountain with three peaks and a snowflake in the middle, 3PMSF (3-PEAK MOUNTAIN-SNOWFLAKE). This symbol indicates that the tire has passed the specific approval test required by EU Regulation 117 for severe winter conditions.