Posts Tagged ‘snow’

British driving without winter tyres

January 19, 2013

Here’s a picture of British driving in the latest snow. All over the place, even on a flat road. And why? Certainly because winter tyres are scarcely used at all in this country.

In many countries on the continent of Europe, winter tyres are mandatory at this time of the year. The Swiss rule that vehicles must be “adapted to the conditions.” That means winter tyres when the conditions require. If you have an accident without winter tyres, you can fined or lose your insurance cover.

Isn’t that expensive? Not much. During winter, you don’t wear down your summer tyres. The main cost is to have a garage change them over twice a year. The savings in less damage make up for this – and you are safer.

Winter tyres are not effective just in snow and ice. At any temperature from 7 Celsius downwards, winter tyres grip better.

Perhaps we need a European Union directive …

Photo: Matthew Plucknett,/Oxford Mail

Make winter tyres mandatory

December 20, 2010

Having moved recently to Britain, I realise winter tyres are not on anybody’s radar screen here. Perhaps that is one reason why things get so snarled up here when it snows.

In Switzerland, the law says your vehicle must be “adapted to the conditions”, which in practice means winter tyres are mandatory once it snows. If you don’t have them, you can be fined. If you cause an accident still on summer tyres, the insurance won’t pay.

Winter tyres are no big deal. You wear your summer ones down less while you are running on the winter set. You don’t need an extra set of wheels. Garages change the tyres over in half an hour while you wait. Cost: about £50 a time.

Today I pushed a Royal Mail van stuck in the snow. It had summer tyres. Tonight, all post-boxes where I live were crammed full. They had not been emptied since Friday.

I suggest Britain too legislates that drives must ensure their vehicles are “adapted to the conditions.” That by itself would do much to keep things moving.

Dealing with snow: Mont Blanc tunnel motorway shows how

January 13, 2010

Amid all the grouses about not coping with snow, I should like to pay tribute to the Mont Blanc tunnel motorway operators. I drove back through falling snow 140 kms from Aosta to Geneva last Saturday and never had the slightest problem, even though the road rises to a height of 1,250 metres.

I saw at least 15 teams of snowploughs on the way, moving three abreast each way, allowing space for vehicles to thread in between. Big powerful, snow-moving equipment, with a host of trained personnel ready to turn out late on a Saturday evening to keep the road clear.

The tunnel motorway’s tolls have always struck me as expensive, but if that’s what they spend them on, that’s OK by me. Thank you for helping me to reach home safely.

20 cms of snow and UK airports close down – except one

December 20, 2009

20 cms of snows fell over night in the SE of the UK last Friday 18.12.09 and had stopped before dawn. Luton airport and the airlines however failed to get more than about half a dozen flights into the air by nightfall that day. I was one of the thousands of passengers checked in and waiting most of the  day before my flight was cancelled. My airline, Easyjet, refused to rebook passengers at the airport and closed their ticket counter at 1650.

“Severe weather” they all said. What “severe weather?” It was sunny all day.

My score: operational efficiency: 1 our of 10, communication with passengers 1 out of 10. Overall: a miserable experience.

Next day at Oxford Airport, its first ever international flight – Baboo to Geneva – took off on time, with mulled wine and mince pies served beforehand. What a difference! I could take the place I reserved 3 months ago for Don Giovanni at the Geneva Opera that evening. Fancy that: an airline which gets you there in time to do what you travelled for!

Not heard of Oxford Airport? It’s on my map now.

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