Jan 18 2010 Mike Waters
WITH snow paralysing large parts of the country last week I decided to work from home rather tha risk the treacherous trip into the office, a decision made all the easier by the fact that my car is about as good on the snow and ice as Bambi.
We seemed to have gone several years without serious snowfall but with widespread disruption brought by snow last year and with more of the same this year, tough winter driving conditions look like they are here to stay.
Now all of the weather warnings say that we shouldn't drive unless absolutely necessary, but that can be a tough temptation to resist if you have somewhere to be, especially if its for work.
That pressure goes some way to explain the findings of a survey conducted by Continental Tyres which showed that drivers are taking risks when it comes to poor weather, in particular snow and ice. Examples include drivers setting off without properly clearing their windscreen, failing to plan a route and the widespread use of a credit card to clear ice and snow from the vehicle.
No matter how good a driver you are, driving in snowy and icy conditions, or any adverse weather for that matter, is dangerous and nearly always constitutes a risk not worth taking. With most of us having access to at least one phone, a computer and internet access the need to travel is less than it has ever been.
Despite this there are many drivers who take risks in bad weather and there really is no excuse. In those instances where we have to travel, drivers are failing to take measures like checking tread depths on tyres, using screen wash with antifreeze and driving vehicles that have been regularly maintained.
The world can't stop because of some snow, it certainly doesn't in countries where heavy snow is a regular occurrence but they are often better equipped to deal with extreme weather than we are. Driving in bad weather is a risk, don't do it unless you have to, and if you do, preparation is the key.
Check that windows are clean and free of ice and snow, that lights work, that tyres are up to scratch and that screenwash is working. Plan your route carefully and pack for the journey with de-icing equipment, a shovel, blanket, and sensible clothes.Take every precaution that you can to stay safe by driving carefully, preparing yourself and your vehicle for the challenging conditions ahead.
Mike Waters is director of market insight at Arval, Europe's leading fleet and fuel management company.