Van drivers are being urged to make sure their tyres are fit for winter conditions amid fears of increased accidents on icy roads.

Commercial vehicle leasing giant said drivers are 20% more likely to suffer a road accident during the winter months. Tyres are key and staying safe may mean changing tyres altogether and replacing them with specialist winter treads, particularly if driving on remote country roads.

These improve traction in slippery conditions and are designed to help maintain better control of the vehicle when the roads deteriorate. The tyres work best when temperatures drop below seven degrees, improving the traction, grip and breaking performance of a vehicle.

One of the key differences between the two tyre designs is much deeper tread grooves on the winter tyres which are more effective at dispersing surface water on the road, reducing the risk of skidding due to surface water.

The tread blocks on the tyres are covered with small jagged slits called sipes which improve traction when temperatures plummet and snow falls on the roads as they provide hundreds of small extra edges to grip the road when the tyre rotates.

Vans storing a lot of tools are particularly vulnerable to spinning as heavier weight in the rear can destabilise the vehicle when turning.

Tim Alcock from said: “Driving any vehicle in cold wintry conditions can be perilous but being behind the wheel of a van or truck with a heavy load is even more dangerous due to decreased stability and longer breaking distances.

“Drivers using the specially designed tyres will feel more in control of their vehicle when on wet and icy roads, where a normal summer tyre would struggle for grip and traction.

“The tyres are a useful investment for drivers who will cover hundreds of miles during the winter months. It is recommended to have them fitted around October and then return to summer tyres the following March, meaning drivers can get five to six months use from them.”