Prepare your car for the worst as winter weather starts to bite

Article date: 28 November 2011

  • Motorists urged to consider switching to winter tyres

Motorists are being urged to consider using winter tyres on their vehicles as forecasters warn winter weather is finally on its way. 

As well as checking on anti-freeze levels and stocking up on de-icer, motorists should seriously consider investing in winter tyres for their vehicles as they brace themselves for the seasonal chill, the UK’s largest insurer Aviva advises.

Nigel Bartram, Aviva's senior motor underwriter, said there seemed to be little awareness among consumers about the type of tyres which are available to them, let alone the benefits for a safer journey. He said: "While there is increased use of winter tyres in some sectors, such as supermarket delivery lorries and the emergency services, many motorists are not aware that such tyres are available to them and how they can make a real difference to the way their vehicle grips to the road. 

"Winter tyres would not prevent all accidents, but their better grip would increase the chances of the driver having a safer journey in difficult conditions. 

“We believe winter tyres should be considered seriously as they're not just for snow and ice but for temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius and if the motorist does low mileages and does not drive regularly on high speed roads, they could be used all year round, and there will be no need for two sets of tyres." 

As one of the insurers signed up to the ABI's Winter Tyres commitment, outlined last week, Aviva does not view winter tyres as a modification to a car so they do not increase the premium, and the customer does not need to inform the insurer when winter tyres are fitted to their vehicle. In addition, a spare set of tyres would be covered if they are kept securely at the policyholder's address.

The use of winter tyres in northern European countries, such as the Netherlands, has increased from 5% to 30% in recent years as motorists there have become aware of their benefits during increasingly harsher winters. And research1 in the Netherlands, which has a similar climate to the UK, has shown drivers have safer journeys during the winter months where winter tyres are fitted. 

However, Bartram added a note of caution when the weather is particularly bad: "While winter tyres provide much better grip and performance as the weather gets colder, in really severe conditions the advice still has to be not to drive unless absolutely necessary."

Here are Aviva's top tips for winter driving - before you leave and for the journey:

Before you leave:

  • Before setting out on a journey, use a windscreen scraper or de-icer (not a knife or hot water!) to remove ice  from your vehicle - in particular the windscreen and other windows (the Highway Code states it is illegal to drive with poor or 'port-hole' visibility)
  • Check levels of anti-freeze and de-icing agent in screenwash and top up if necessary
  • Ensure you have enough fuel for your journey - vehicles use more fuel in heavy traffic and stop/start conditions
  • Take a mobile phone with you and check the battery is fully charged
  • Be suitably equipped for an emergency - a shovel in case you need to dig your vehicle out of deep snow, heavy-duty jump leads, a tow rope, first aid kit, torch, spare fuel can, warning triangle and a fire extinguisher
  • Wrap up warm and pack a blanket, waterproof clothing and sensible footwear and take some food and drink with you for all your passengers, in case you get stranded
  • In severe conditions, don't drive unless absolutely necessary but if you do have to venture out, tell someone of your departure time, route, destination and estimated time of arrival

The journey:

  • Where possible use major routes, which are more likely to have been gritted and salted
  • Use the correct lights - headlights in snow, fog lights in poor visibility but remember to switch them off if visibility improves
  • Leave more room between you and the vehicle in front and allow more time for braking and accelerating


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:
Liz Kennett: Aviva Press Office : 01603 681258 : 07800 699667 :

Jenny Chapman: Aviva Press Office: 01603 689894: 078800 699668:

1Research carried out in 2010 by traffic psychologist Adriaan Heino of 25,000 insurance claims made via insurer Centraal Behaar Achmea showed claims for vehicles with winter tyres rose 12% in the winter months compared to a rise of 32% for vehicles with summer tyres. 

Notes to editors:
Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group.  We provide 44.5 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers. Our combination of life, health and general insurance is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2010 we invested £4.3m into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at 

Aviva has teamed up with some major brands to support Start Today, a campaign run by the charity Start. The campaign runs throughout November 2011 and asks people to ‘start something good, start today’. The idea is to encourage the public to do something simple and easy to help the environment and themselves. Eleven other household names, including M&S, B&Q and British Gas have joined the campaign, each focusing on something people associate their company with.

Aviva is encouraging people to ‘Start to dejunk your trunk’! Junk adds to the weight of a car and a heavier car uses more fuel. De junking might include boxes of CDs, muddy walking boots and heavier items such golf clubs.  Also, roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes make the car heavier, less aerodynamic and reduce fuel efficiency, so remove them when not in use.  You’ll save money and fuel so it’s a small way of doing something to help the environment. 

Aviva is promoting the campaign via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, inviting the public to get involved in various competitions as well as providing followers with green tips and ideas on how to drive more sustainably.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

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*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.
**at 31 December 2010. 

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