A comprehensive survey by Goodyear, which produces tyres under both Goodyear and Dunlop brands, has found striking differences in national attitudes towards winter tyres. Drivers from seven countries (500 each from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK) took part.

Across all of the countries, 72 per cent of drivers said they knew a great deal or something about the importance of having the right tyres for the season, such as winter tyres during the colder months, and 67 per cent were confident that they could judge the correct time of year for switching from summer to winter tyres. On the other hand, a slightly alarming 32 per cent weren't sure whether the tyres fitted to their cars were of the winter, summer or another variety. Some 59 per cent of European motorists use winter tyres; 40 per cent make the switch every year, with a further 11 per cent fitting winter tyres most years and eight per cent using them sometimes. On the other hand, 30 per cent never fit winter tyres and seven per cent do so rarely.

Among drivers who rarely or never fit winter tyres, 31 per cent cited the cost as a problem – this reason was most often given in Belgium (40 per cent). In the UK, 32 per cent said that winter tyres weren't required, much higher than the 23 per cent figure across all seven countries. A further 16 per cent of motorists said they didn't think fitting winter tyres made any difference, and eight per cent fell under the heading “don't care/not worried”, a figure that rose to 20 per cent for Italian motorists.

Only 54 per cent agreed with what Goodyear believes to be the correct approach to fitting winter tyres – that they should be used when temperatures fall below 7ºC. The rest were either sceptical or ignorant regarding the superior performance of winter tyres, or agreed with the suggestion that it is safe to drive in snow of up to 10 centimetres of snow on normal tyres, whereas in fact winter tyres yield benefits in far less extreme conditions.

Women were less confident than men in judging the requirements for winter tyres but there were big national differences too. Drivers were most confident in their knowledge about fitting the right tyre, including winter tyres, in snowy Poland (96 per cent), Germany (81 per cent) and Italy (79 per cent) but only 44 per cent of UK motorists said they had some, or a great deal of, knowledge about the importance having the right tyre for the season. British motorists were much more likely (30 per cent) to dismiss winter tyres as a mere marketing gimmick than their counterparts in Germany (eight per cent) or Poland (nine per cent).

Search for used cars