A stagnant economy and freezing weather: two topics guaranteed to strike a chill in the hearts of British motorists. After last winter's travel chaos, SEAT is getting behind a campaign by TyreSafe to encourage drivers to fit winter tyres.

This year October isn't just about Halloween: it's also Tyre Safety Month. The Spanish manufacturer might not be the most obvious partner for TyreSafe. But who could argue with the not-for-profit organisation's motto that "Safe tyres save lives". (I'm sure it sounds even better in Spanish.)

You might be banking on avoiding snow until your annual skiing trip next March -- but that would be a mistake. Your tyres aren't just affected by snow and ice on the roads. Once the temperature drops below 7°C the tread compound in standard tyres starts to harden and there's less grip.

Winter tyres have several, potentially life-saving properties:

  • A higher natural rubber content than standard summer tyres. This allows them to remain softer and more flexible even when you've got icicles hanging from your garage door.
  • A different tread pattern for improved traction.
  • A squarer shoulder profile and defined shoulder blocks.

Let's not forget about sipes, either. They are the thin slits cut in winter tires to improve traction in snow and ice. In case you were wondering, "siping" was named after John F Sipe. The enterprising Mr Sipe cut slits in the bottom of his shoes to stop himself slipping over at work.

The network of 120 SEAT dealers is promoting the TyreSafe message that fitting winter tyres is necessary and not that much of a chore. In a chilling demonstration video, two SEAT Ibizas take to an ice rink to demonstrate how much longer an emergency stop takes in summer tyres.

With drivers up to six times more likely to have an accident in winter as in summer, it makes sense to switch your tyres now. After all, you wouldn't walk around in flip-flops in December, would you?

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