Saturday, 18 December 2010

A bit of an adventure

The general advice to day for motorists was to only travel if absolutely necessary.

What the fuck does that mean?

For some people that is "I must get down to A&E as I seem to have taken off my hand at the wrist with a chainsaw". For others it is "I absolutely must get my sister those fluffy pink ear muffs to go with the array of presents I have already been accumulating since the end of September".

Do you see what I mean? Some peoples definition of absolutely necessary is well off the mark. For example my ex-wife decided that a 140 mile journey in a rear wheel drive BMW was absolutely necessary. Actually that is not true - I don't think she actually considered the weather forecast at all. In fact if she actually engaged her brain this morning before piling her two kids in to a BMW and heading towards heavy snow for at least 50% of her journey I'd be amazed. The plan was that she would pick up TP in Stratford and head down to her mother's in SW London. I called her "en route" and from the conversation it was apparent that she had used none of the information sources available to her to determine what the weather was likely to be on the way down and was travelling with two young children on the basis of a discussion with her aged mother and alcoholic brother the previous evening.

My "on the ground" advice that the snow was falling fast and settling on the roads did not seem to persuade her that she ought to reconsider and the suggestion that she might want to check the BBC and Highways Agency websites fell on deaf ears. It was only when I point blank refused to deliver TP to her that she decided to abandon her trip and return to her home. We have had the best part of 8" of snow today and driving is treacherous. I checked the route that TP's mum proposed to drive with TP and her 5 and 7 year old and noted that at least one section had reported 4 to 5 hours delays and described the M40 as a car park.

Would you want to do that if you didn't have to? I certainly wouldn't.

The net result is that TP's mum is safe at home with her two kids and husband and is considering travelling tomorrow after checking the travel conditions. She could have spent a fascinating time with them stuck in a car on a snowy motorway because she decided that disappointing the kids and her mum meant that travel was absolutely necessary.

Now I'm just as bad in my own way as I decided that I needed to travel 12 miles to do a bit of Christmas shopping but I did take precautions. I did chuck a spade in the back of the car and the car of choice was the Defender. She is designed to go up a mountain via the shorter bumpier routes so 12 miles of snowy A roads weren't really going to be a problem and they weren't.

What were the problems were the idiots in 2 wheel drive cars that decided that they needed to go shopping too. There are a few steep hills between home and Stratford on Avon and on the way home every single one of them was blocked by someone in a 2 wheel drive car sat skewed across the middle of the road half way up.

I took several detours on the way home and in the end my tactic was to use the most snowy B roads as they were least used, most snow covered and least likely to be blocked by abandoned cars. We got home without incident but it took the best part of an hour rather that the normal 20 to 30 minutes.

The point I am trying to make here is that there is no definition of "absolutely necessary" and that will never dissuade an idiot from driving in deep snow. However, here's a thought, it might be possible to prohibit two wheel drive or rear wheel drive cars from blocking up roads if they are snow covered and only permitting 4 wheel drives and essential vehicles when the roads are deep and crisp and even.

It is treacherous out here at the moment and I am not kidding when I say that I saw an ambulance out with its flashing blues on and it was being towed by a tractor. We passed it and saw that it had just been pulled up a hill that had a fuck wit sat half way up in a two wheel drive car. I hope it made it to wherever it was going and that it's unfortunate passenger was OK.

If you are going out at the moment drive an appropriate vehicle or stay at home. It's no fun sleeping in a snow bound car - they aren't well insulated. Stay at home or get a vehicle you know has the capability of getting you to your destination.

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