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Drivers doubt Britain’s ability to deal with snow

An RAC poll suggests that 80% of drivers do not feel that Britain is prepared to cope with snowy conditions.

Of those, 29% believe the country is ‘not at all prepared’ for snow, while more than half (51%) think those responsible for the nation’s roads are ‘not very prepared’. Only 20% thought Britain was prepared for a snowy conditions.

Three-quarters (77%) of the 2,000-plus surveyed also said they had made a conscious decision not to drive as a result of snow. Six in 10 (59%) say they are prepared to drive in the snow, but have not been able to simply because they were blocked in.

However, asked to name the most worrying types of bad weather, only 15% of driver cited snow. Instead, most (45%) were more concerned about driving in icy conditions.

A quarter (26%) said fog was the most worrying weather, with only 8% listing heavy rain and 2% strong winds. One in 20 (5%) said they were not fazed by any form of weather.

Motorists do however feel local authorities and those responsible for the country’s major roads are good at gritting surfaces when there is a risk of ice.

Two-thirds (69%) claimed they were satisfied with their councils’ gritting practices and when asked about those responsible for gritting major roads the satisfaction level rose to 78%.

RAC Rescue spokesman Simon Williams said: “Figures from the Local Government Association show that local councils have stockpiled 1.5 million tonnes of salt in readiness to make sure the country’s roads don’t turn to ice when the thermometer plummets. This is clearly appreciated by motorists as most seem satisfied with the way local authorities treat roads when there is a risk of ice.

“Snow, however, is another matter as the vast majority of motorists don’t think the country is well set up to deal with more than a dusting of the white stuff.”

When it comes to winter driving, preparation is everything, says Williams, and that applies to both those in charge of our roads and to motorists themselves as they have to make sure they and their vehicles are ready for whatever the weather throws at them.

He said: “While most councils are well stocked with grit to prevent roads becoming dangerously icy when cold conditions are forecast, a prolonged period of heavy snow presents an altogether more challenging situation which is harder for them to deal with due to the infrequency with which the country has to endure the worst winter weather.

“Grit generally works very well, apart from in extreme low temperatures, but it does need vehicles to be driving on it to be effective so if large amounts of snow fall in short periods councils are then faced with having to try to clear roads with snow ploughs.”

Drivers should always make sure their vehicles are ready for winter driving with good tread on their tyres, the right coolant so that it doesn’t freeze, a well topped up high quality screenwash that protects down to at least -15°C and windscreen wipers that are in good working order, says the RAC.

They should also ensure they are well equipped with de-icer and a scraper, warm clothing, food and a drink, blankets or a sleeping bag in case they get stuck, a shovel, and that they have a fully charged mobile with charging cable and a back-up battery supply.

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