British Winters: The Farce

In Britain we are cursed with one of the most unpredictable (some say, the most unpredictable) weather systems in the world. This is because we are susceptible to a myriad of factors including maritime/continental air masses, the Gulf Stream, the Jet Stream; to the extent that the British Isles have been known to see the weather of all four seasons in one day.

Our Favourite Topic

It is unsurprising therefore that one of our favourite topics of conversation is the weather. The BBC has invested millions in technology and satellites, in order to predict to some degree of accuracy, where and when precipitation will fall.

Why is it therefore that we are never prepared for snow. Granted, we don’t get a lot of it, but every year there is around a week of snow. We are told that the “gritters” are ready, and that we have “stockpiled” grit. Still, our infrastructure grinds to a halt; we have “snow days” and vehicles can’t go up hills. In Britain, especially in terms of snow tyres, we simply don’t buy them.

Europe Is Prepared

The Europeans however do it differently. From 2009 to 2011, cold-weather tyres saw a market increase of 50% with 2011 seeing over one hundred million sales. Many countries such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, the Scandinavian countries and Slovenia have made winter tyres mandatory. Other countries voluntarily take these up so as to remain mobile.

A Fleet Manager’s Duty

Although the UK doesn’t of course receive as much snow as these countries, there would great benefit in fleets especially having sets of winter tyres. It should be a duty of care and safety, as even if it doesn’t snow, there can be ice or thick frost on the roads, especially in the early morning.

The emergency services and fresh food delivery services have all adopted winter tyres, but why have many other fleets neglected this? The risk is serious as it affects stopping distances and car manoeuvrability, making any crashes push up fleet van insurance premiums. With the shift in the Gulf Stream meteorologists predict that colder winters are going to become far more frequent. In addition, if fleets want winter tyres for next year, they should place their orders soon lest supplies run out.



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