Cruising back from Wales on the freezing-fog-bound M4 on Tuesday evening, I began to wonder whether Britain does enough to train its drivers to cope with difficult weather conditions.
Winter tyres provide a safety benefit, but putting different black round things on each corner of your car is merely one part of the automotive jigsaw. They are only as good as the person behind the steering wheel and learning how to drive in snow, ice and fog should surely be another intrinsic element of the puzzle.
Perhaps the idea is a little bit too ‘nanny state’, but I don’t recall having any specific driving lessons in wintry conditions when I was preparing to take my driving test, and I definitely would have benefited from some.
My lack of snow driving experience was exposed in January 2007 when I went to Norway to co-drive in a rally in a Ford Fiesta ST competition car. The day before the event in the frozen depths of the Norwegian countryside, I was driving our Suzuki Vitara hire car down a snow-covered forest road when I slid out of control on a left-hand bend.
It was a fairly slow-speed incident, but as soon as the Vitara started slipping sideways everything went into fast-forward and the next thing I knew I was admiring a snow ditch while hanging upside down – fortunately secured by the seat belt of the inverted Suzuki, but feeling like a muppet.