No grit – but drivers are as much to blame

Here’s a good Trivial Pursuits question.

“If, before you set out on your journey, you knew that there was a chance you would have to either sleep in your car or abandon your car and walk home, what would you take with you?”

Score yourself one point for each of the following:

  1. Extra Warm Clothes.
  2. Food and drink.
  3. Wellington Boots.
  4. Spade.
  5. De-icer.
  6. Ice scraper.
  7. Torch.
  8. Salt or grit.
  9. Mobile phone (fully charged).
  10. Sufficient fuel to survive a very long journey (even if you are only traveling a few miles).

Score yourself a bonus 175 points if you answered “I wouldn’t leave the house in the first place”.

In what has been described by the Met Office as the “most widespread snowfall we have seen in 18 years” it is quite incredible to note that the majority of drivers would have scored very few points in the above IQ test. Motorway police report that many drivers seem ill-equipped to cope with the current snowfalls. We can safely assume that this means mentally as well as with respect to provisions.

According to a recent survey by Kwik-Fit, 80% of motorists (21.7 million) don’t carry extra winter clothes with them on their journey. 6% of motorists carry no special emergency supplies or equipment. 40% don’t have a car phone charger and 65% don’t have a warning triangle in the event of a break down. If that’s not bad enough, Kwik-Fit also estimates that 10% of motorists are driving on tyres with less than the legal minimum tread.

It is one thing to criticise our pathetic stocks of grit, or our ability to get the grit down at the correct time, but it is altogether a different thing to head out into a snow storm with only your office jacket and a wing and a prayer to see you through. At Safer Motorways, we believe that it is down to the individual driver to ensure he has taken every possible precaution before he starts criticising others.

If the pilot of a commercial jet is ultimately responsible for the safety of his plane (and he is) then clearly, any driver, is ultimately responsible for the safety of his car and himself/passengers.

Regrettably the great British motorists, who we love with a passion we have to add, not only demonstrate a lack of common sense whenever snow arrives but also a lack of driving skills as well. Anyone who has ventured out over the last couple of weeks cannot have failed to observe vast numbers of idiot drivers who are clearly not qualified to drive on ice and snow.

In fact, for many younger drivers this will have been the first heavy snow falls they have ever experienced. Which is probably why I was overtaken in my four wheel drive by an enthusiastically driven P reg. Fiesta doing 70 mph compared with my 50 mph.

Maybe we should go back to our scouting days and drivers can only be allowed out in the snow when they have got their “Ice Driving Proficiency Badge”.

In addition to the list above can we also offer the following advice:

  1. Ensure you have adequate stocks of windscreen washer additive both in your garage and in your washer bottle. Not wanting to point out the blindingly obvious but higher concentrations are required when the temperature falls below zero.

  2. Your car doesn’t need a LITTLE bit more stopping distance in ice and snow – it needs up to TEN TIMES the stopping distance. What space are you leaving the car in front?

  3. Avoid sudden braking, acceleration and sharp turns.

  4. Make sure you do not spin the wheels by using higher gears at all times. Most cars are quite capable of moving off in second gear rather than first.

  5. Do not abandon your car in a position of high risk where it is likely to be hit by the next driver who fails to negotiate a bend or hill.

  6. Finally, before you make any journey, work out whether the added risk of accident or injury makes it worthwhile. If you can – stay at home.

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