It always amazes me when, come the cold weather, the news is filled with severe weather warnings and news reports of car crashes and impending doom across England. Yet when snow comes to Scotland we are greeted with the usual weather reports and not much excitement.
Is there something different between the English and Scottish snow? Perhaps it’s the drivers?
I was just watching Sky News and BBC News 24 when I was with my Parents for Christmas, and the reports were raving about the extreme weather conditions in England. To accompany these severe warnings we were greeted with pictures of white fields with solid black roads, or minor roads with sprinklings of snow like icing sugar on your Christmas cake. Nothing vaguely looking like severe weather to us, or weather dangerous to drive in…unless you can’t drive in such conditions.
That was the biggest thing we noticed, bad driving. One shot showed a dual carriageway in England, the inside lane was clear and dark showing plenty of tarmac, with cars moving along at a good pace. The outside lane was dusted with snow and had but tyre tracks cleared for driving, and sure enough one car was racing along them at full tilt.
Other shots showed pictures of overturned cars. One on a corner of another lightly dusted road, the tyre tracks snaking around the bend onto the other side of the road obviously not able to keep control. Perhaps just too much speed into the corner, or the eternal problem I witness from other drivers, braking on a turn at speed.
In Scotland I remember driving out of Aberdeen on Christmas Eve and heading to Portlethen in my rear wheeled, high powered, and very light car. The main dual carriageway (now classified as a motorway without any change to the road itself) was covered in snow. Now when I say covered it was thick and compacted, the kind of snow you would slide on as a kid. It was a good few inches thick after being compacted and there was no clear tarmac anywhere, not a gritter in sight. Yet the cars were still driving along without a problem.
We did two things. We slowed well down, stayed on the inside lane, and drove on. If there was a skid, you avoided the brake and turned into it – another reason for not overtaking vehicles, two lanes to a single vehicle gives you plenty of width – all just sensible and careful driving.
You see in Scotland we’re used to this weather and can drive in it, but in England the slightest sprinkle causes panic, possibly more on the news and with the Met Office than anywhere else, and we see pictures of cleared roads with snow in the surrounding fields and reporters warning us of the treacherous driving conditions.
My Dad asked, rhetorically, what does Canada do when it snows, or Sweden, or Norway,…. I ask, what does Scotland do? Well, we don’t panic for one.