Most winters the UK gets hit by some wintry weather and much of our infrastructure grinds to a halt. Comparisons are often drawn with European countries who experience the same and worse conditions, but who seem able to continue operating in all but the worst storms. There’s one very simple thing that could be done which would have a massive impact, and that’s encouraging the use of snow or winter tyres. We bought a set of tyres a few winters back and have put them on for the last three years between November and March. The tyres themselves are not much, if any, more expensive than regular tyres, and the magic bit is that when they are on and being used, your regular tyres are not being used so they last twice as long. Likewise when your regular tyres are on your winter tyres are not, and last twice as long. Sounds obvious, but maybe not to everybody. The only investment is either a second set of rims for the winter tyres which allows you to change the wheels yourself, or a twice-yearly tyre-change at your local garage (about £40 a go). Winter tyres do not have metal studs in, they simply have more surface area in their tread. The increase your sticking and stopping performance from about 8 degrees Celsius down, so are suitable (and safer) for the majority of the winter when there is no snow or ice on the roads. If we were all encouraged to use them (and in some European countries it is a legal requirement to do so) rather suspect that we’d have more teachers making it into schools, less schools closing as a result, and fewer parents on emergency leave to look after kids who can’t get to school because of the weather. I’m sure the same would apply to other organisations and businesses, but school closures are always the ones quoted in the news as a measure of just how bad the weather is.
I guess that I ought to add that they really work! The day we had ours fitted I was one of the only people in the village that managed to make a run into Sheffield for provisions as 4 inches of snow lay on the entire route in. Not even a twitch.