The snow keeps coming down in the Netherlands, something that has not happened for at least 15 years according to my Dutch neighbourg who uses winter tires on his car. In fact, anyone who drives to Germany, Italy and France is obliged by law to have them on their car.
Winter tires are not obligatory in the Netherlands. With serious snow falls once every decade or so, it seems logically. However, this year, with an increase in accidents, all kinds of organisations are realising that saving money has come first and safety comes second.
“Not enough buses use winter tires” claims newspaper De Gelderlander. The biggest bus company Connexxion has none and they believe it doesn’t make a difference. Arriva, a smaller bus company, uses ‘all-season’ tires, which are really good for three seasons — not snow fall or a slippery road.
All-season tires were designed for wet and dry driving, while snow tires were designed for slippery conditions and very cold temperatures. And yes, we have had both from one day to the next here.
Touring cars use winter tires because they drive to countries like Germany, and taxi and transport companies switch to winter tires as well. Both of them can’t afford accidents.
Mini-vans that transport handicapped and mentally challenged children to school in the region of Utrecht don’t use winter tires, as their bosses apparently can’t afford them and they aren’t obligatory anyways. The story on telly was that parents were upset, drivers felt bad and the municipalities said the van companies should pay for the tires and the van companies said the municipalities should subsidise them. The cheapest van company wins the transport contract, so including winter tires is a big no-no. And saving money comes before safety again.
Recap: 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, which is dangerous. Ordinary tires are cheaper, but much more dangerous altogether in winter conditions. Winter tires are rarely needed and aren’t obligatory, but it is risky.
For days on end, when the snow kept coming down, the Dutch automobile association and Dutch road safety association told people to stay home altogether, which gives you an indication of how dangerous they thought the road was no matter what tires you had on your car.