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Snow brings out the good, bad and downright ugly in drivers

PUBLISHED: 09:01 02 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:51 05 March 2018

Driving in snow needs extra care, patience and forward-thinking. Picture: Andy Russell

Driving in snow needs extra care, patience and forward-thinking. Picture: Andy Russell

Andy Russell

While worsening, snowy conditions bring out the best in most drivers, some don’t do themselves or other road-users any favours by showing a lack of care and common sense, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

As the Beast from the East virtually paralysed the country in its icy grip, it brought out the best and, unfortunately in some cases, worst of people’s nature.

While the best advice was not to make that journey unless you really had to, that’s not always an option.

Having learned to drive 40 years ago in similar conditions, getting to grips with snowy conditions does not worry me. I had a driving instructor who gave me the option of cancelling my lesson or being taught how best to drive safely in snow and ice. I chose the latter and have never looked back. Unfortunately, heavy snow never seems to coincide with when I have a 4x4 SUV on test!

It also taught me to accept when I am beaten and that was the case on Wednesday morning. I left home just after 7am, dropped my wife off at work, to save her driving, and then headed to work. I soon realised it was not going to happen so turned tail and headed home... with my tail between by legs but my head held high. I had been making reasonable progress until everything ground to a halt – you only need one or two vehicles to get stuck and everything else backs up.

That blocks the roads and prevents the snowploughs and gritters doing their job. While on my way home three tractors with snowploughs fitted and another with a digger bucket came the other way... unfortunately a bit too late.

While most drivers accepted the challenge with good grace and great patience – not that there was much option – and many passers-by seemed quite happy to give a helping hand to get vehicles moving when needed, some drivers seemed to make no allowances for the tricky, treacherous conditions.

Some drivers had made no effort to clear several inches of snow from their cars so the only bits of screen they could see through were where the wipers had shifted it but snow blowing off the bonnet and roof then obscured their views and other people’s visibility.

There were drivers who obviously felt no need to put their headlights on or those who did but had not cleared their cars of the white stuff so just a dull glow through the snow.

I could understand people driving very slowly and cautiously – at least they were making progress – but the few who thought they were tame Finnish rally drivers just made things even trickier for everyone else as no one, including themselves, had much idea where they were going to end up as they fish-tailed around.

And while four-wheel drive gives extra traction to help get the vehicle moving, it’s not going to make it any easier to stop. In fact, big, heavy 4x4s are going to take even more stopping with more momentum. So why do some 4x4 drivers think they can pass everyone else in the slush at twice the speed of the traffic flow? Sheer madness.

Perhaps we don’t cope very well with driving in snow because it doesn’t happen very often in this country so we don’t have the experience. On the other hand, judging by some drivers’ lack of even basic common sense, perhaps we should be grateful severe snow is not the norm.

Did you have any scary moments driving in the snow or witness some mad motorists? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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