Staggered, and not for the first time, by the recklessness of a sizeable constituency of drivers of four-wheel-drive cars in poor weather conditions. I had to drive across the country to catch a flight, which meant driving down the M4 with a mix of snow and sleet in the air and slush and ice on the ground.
The conditions were perfectly manageable, safe even, so long as you treated them with the respect they commanded, which almost everyone did. I was in an Audi TT diesel (which has four-wheel drive) and cruised down the middle the lane at the same 50mph as almost everyone else.
But in the outside lane, whose width was severely restricted by snow encroaching from the central reservation, it was never long before someone in a Range Rover, Cayenne or Impreza came barrelling along as if the conditions somehow didn’t apply to them.
I think the responsibility for this behaviour lies at least in part with car manufacturers who market four-wheel drive as a safety feature.
Clearly, there are conditions in which four-wheel drive will keep you on the road long after a front-drive or rear-drive car would have stopped moving. And for many people who live deep in the countryside, myself included, having something that copes with these conditions is essential.
But many seem not to appreciate that once trouble occurs, regardless of whether you swerve, brake or both to avoid it, the moment your foot comes off the accelerator they have no-wheel drive like everybody else.
As an aside, the TT diesel is a wonderfully pragmatic car – not that fast or fun, to be honest – but that’s not why people buy TTs anyway. With lots of lazy torque, 50mpg on a quiet run and an easy range of at least 600 miles, if I were allowed my choice of the TT range, this is what I’d have.