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As the UK braces itself for "another blast of winter", drivers are urged to consider the merits of winter tyres by the AA.

Switching to winter tyres is common practice, or even a legal requirement, in other European countries where winter weather conditions are generally more severe and predictable than in the UK.

There are several practical and economic reasons why winter tyres are not compulsory in this country. According to the AA: "There are many parts of the UK that never or very rarely experience weather conditions that would justify use of winter tyres."

The AA also points out that many car owners choose not to drive at all when snow or ice are around and the cost could make it prohibitive for some vehicle owner.

However, the breakdown organisation adds: "Winter tyres make sense for drivers living in the more remote areas of the country where winter conditions are likely to be more severe for longer."

Winter tyres use a tread rubber compound (high silicone content) and tread pattern specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures (below +7C) and give good braking/traction performance on snow/ice as well as on wet roads in cold conditions."

The sidewall of a winter tyre will be marked with a symbol showing a snowflake or snow-topped mountains.