Winter tires in the Netherlands: useful or marketing stunt?

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The debate about winter tires is back in time for Christmas. In February when there was actual long-staying snow on the ground, I wrote a big posting about why winter tires are a good thing, but not always necessary.

The ANWB (Royal Dutch Automobile Association), Veilig Verkeer Nederland (Safe Traffic association) and others are highly recommending winter tires this year and guess what? We’re apparently facing a winter tire shortage, if we can believe the hype over at newspaper De Telegraaf (in Dutch).

It could easily be seen as a marketing stunt in a country where winter tires are not obligatory and are only useful maybe a few weeks out of the year if at all, depending on which part of the country you live in and if we actually get some snow and/or ice. Anyone who drives to Gemany or Austria to go skiing is obliged to switch tires, but many people go by bus that have winter tires or fly to their skiing destination.

“Winter tires are good when the road is covered with snow and is slippery. All-seasons are good in many conditions, but don’t have the grip of winter tires and braking takes longer. Ordinary tires are cheaper, but much more dangerous altogether in winter conditions.”

It’s still a toss up. The car I drove last winter had what the Dutch call ‘summer tires’. We drove down to France, but waited until the snow had melted on the highway here to drive down safely. Driving more carefully and more slowly in winter was part of my driving theory exam here in the Netherlands. I like the bit about driving off in second gear to get more grip when there’s snow on the ground.

(Link: depers)

1 Comment »

  1. Marketing stunt. The really snowy days are few and far between and don’t last long, and the ice disappears during the daytime. Like Seattle with a very similar maritime climate and little incentive towards snow tires, it’s better to sit in, have a cup of coffee, work from home, and the snow will be gone tomorrow. The difference in Seattle is that sometimes it’s nice to drive up into the mountains, where snow tires are required, but I don’t think that’s a factor in getting up to drielandenpunt here.

    For the bike on icy cobblestones, though, that’s a different matter :)

    Comment by Dave Hampton — November 12, 2010 @ 10:21 am

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