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M18 snow closure

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M18 snow closure

Old 1st Mar 2018, 09:05
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M18 snow closure

Again & again; it has happened again. Every year when a dusting, or more, of snow hits the roads they grind to a halt. M80 drivers stuck for 13 hours. What we didn't hear was what was going on at the top of the queue. Was it a hill, an accident, what? The road ends somewhere where there was an escape.
If the road was jammed up by cars or an accident were they still on summer tyres.? If they were, and had ignored warnings not to drive, they the drivers could be liable for some serious accusations.
The facts about how the cars were configured is never mentioned. There are still guys who think that 4x4 do not need winter tyres. Duh!
The danger to life, cost to community, cost to local government that might be saved by sensible reconfiguration of tyres. Do we hear of such catastrophes in Scandinavia or Germany or other hilly/mountainous countries? There are those who say that a few days of snow don't justify the effort. The same could be said of those who have fire insurance on their house for 50 years and never know anyone who ever had a house fire. But it seems a good idea, just in case. Snow tyres are like an insurance policy. They work on low temperature, not just snow.
In snow they are a real bonus. They are one of the cheapest 'insurance' deals you can buy. They might avoid an accident, which is very expensive, and might avoid you being trapped which might save your life.
It would be good to know just how much of these M18 type scenarios are caused by wrong tyres, then a campaign could be better targeted.

Last edited by RAT 5; 1st Mar 2018 at 15:45.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 09:13
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Road closures in snow are often caused by articulated vehicles (that don't fit winter tyres) struggling to gain grip on gradients.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 10:50
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So what should be done about that? Just accept that severe life threatening disruption like this will occur once or twice every year, or have a change of philosophy & policy?

I'd even heard stories, in the past, where ambulances couldn't make to out lying areas because of grip on summer tyres. How daft is that? They don't have the weight or fire engines, which I see usually have deep block all weather/terrain tyres. Ambulances are often needed at festivals in grassy muddy fields. Do they, or should they, follow suit?

We know, this tyre thing is a UK issue. On the continent it is a no brainer.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 11:18
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Police have appealed to drivers of articulated vehicles to avoid travelling in areas of Northumberland affected by snow - there have been a dozen incidents so far today with roads across the region blocked by immobilised artics.
A section of a main A-road has been closed to all traffic except cars.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 11:36
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But given how much essential stuff is transported by artic's, surely there has to be solution other than don't drive. The guys could be en-route with valuable/vital stuff. You can't just hold up for a few days and wait for a melt. That could be days or weeks. The truck is required for other work. And if they do try and break though, and fail, what other vital essential deliveries of both goods & people are going to be prevented.
There has to be a solution, especially as it doesn't happen with such predictability on the continent or Scandinavia. Yes, they do get road closures, but it is severe and might include avalanches. It sure ain't just 20cm snow. They keep on trucking.

There are too many trunk routes in UK that can shut down at the mere sniff of a snow flake. Gritting is a stop-gap solution. True preparedness is more successful.

In germany winter tyres are not mandatory in all states. Hamburg is different to Garmisch, but, I believe, if you have an accident in winter conditions with summer tyres you are deemed to be 50% culpable, minimum.

In other countries, between certain dates, winter tyres are mandatory. These are generally hilly regions and subject to snow. I think Scotland and north England conform. I hear all-weather tyres are getting better, but it's still voluntary. The cost of compliance v cost of such disruption is minute. Has it ever even been discussed in Stormont? It surely would be if any MP was in that 13hr jam.
Or is this going to be a "they are not going to take my summer tyres away from me." argument?

P.S. I admit these thoughts are based on the reports of family who live either side of the Pennines in hilly areas. It is not common for them nor neighbours to consider winter tyres. They just grin & bear it when poo happens. Perhaps there are more sensible people than I give credit for; but I do still hear of 4x4 guys who think they are snow proof on summer shoes.

Last edited by RAT 5; 1st Mar 2018 at 12:05.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:03
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Must admit I haven't seen anything on the local news about snow shutting the M18, but there has been a lot on the national news about problems on the M80.

Last edited by wowzz; 1st Mar 2018 at 13:22.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:24
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I received an email update from the RAC which outlined things that drivers ought to do to prepare for winter. Winter tyres didn't get a mention, which I found very surprising.

I certainly fit them to my own car. I keep extra wheels and swap them over as required, something I noticed many car owners in Germany do.

They make a huge difference, especially with regard to lateral grip and braking performance. 4WD is obviously good for traction, but to take full advantage of it on ice and snow, winter tyres are still needed because a 4WD on unsuitable tyres will skid on cornering or under braking just as well as a 2WD car.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:37
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Here is the cost benefit analysis.

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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:39
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I recently put Michelin CrossClimate tyres on my car. These are an all-season tyre and I understand they are accepted as a suitable 'winter' tyre in parts of Europe that require winter tyres to be fitted during certain periods. I think the real problem is that summer tyres are supplied and fitted by default in the UK.

With a nudge from the regulators this behaviour could easily be changed - i.e. ban summer tyres during winter and require winter *or* all-season tyres to be fitted.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:43
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A bit ironic that artics can't manage Arctic conditions......

Given that we are now in the snowflake generation (see what I did?) people need to understand that they cannot drive in snow/ice exactly the same way as in good weather.

We in the UK live in a Country that collapses in a heap if there is more than 2 days of rain/sun/snow/fog etc etc.

There are divots who think having a 4x4 means they can drive anywhere in mud/floods or snow when a) their vehicle is actually a soft roader capable of driving on dry grass only and b) they haven't got the driving skills to read the road ahead.

This is exceptionally cold but there should not be road closures by vehicles and I'd like to see prosecutions for drivers with vehicles that are unroadworthy (bald tyres etc) that cause any pile ups or road blocks because they can't get up a moderately steep hill.

OK, road blocked by 2 ft of snow, it'd take a specialised vehicle to get through, but when the average car gets stuck due to driver issues, then prosecute for careless driving at least.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:55
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Originally Posted by Icare9 View Post
when the average car gets stuck due to driver issues, then prosecute for careless driving at least.
At times such as currently the police are too busy trying to keep roads open and diverting traffic from blocked roads to involve themselves issuing summonses.

The police (and county council highways staff) are currently working like one-armed paperhangers trying to combat the effect of today's snow showers of powdered snow being blown by the gusts of strong wind.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 13:21
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I'm not sure if the police themselves fit winter tyres to most of their own vehicles, so prosecuting motorists for not having them would be difficult to justify. In 2010 (the last well publicised severe winter blast) my son had my old winter tyres on his RWD BMW. He was able to drive uphill past many stranded vehicles, including police 4WD and breakdown services vehicles, on the M62, west side of the Pennines. Many drivers had to spend that night in their vehicles, my son was pleased he didn't need to. He's now a total winter tyre convert. I did hear that the Manchester police were subsequently considering fitting winter tyres, I don't know if they do so.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 14:19
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The last car I bought in May had a set of winter tyres. I swapped these out over summer and then back for a winter trip to Germany where they are mandatory. Come spring I binned them as they would not have seen out the next winter.

Now for those sensibly using winter tyres, reflect that only a very small proportion of car drivers have the space to store a spare set. Few have garages, those that do often have them filled with lumber. While many tyre fitting centres will store your tyres - at a cost - they can only do so when there are few people requiring storage.

Now my new house has a single garage and the luxury of space for winter tyre storage. We are also high up which adds to the attraction of a second set. Against that I have no imperative to travel in bad conditions.

Certainly, in Scotland, I had a set of winter tyres fitted with studs. I used these for 10 years and 4 different cars abandoning them only when the normal tyre had reach 205 and the 155s looked ridiculous. Over the years I lost a number of studs but there was no significant wear of the rubber.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 15:44
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Q for the petrolheads: what is the downside of having winter tyres on all the time? MPG? Handling?

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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:32
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Here, which happens to be Norway, most sensible people use winter tyres during the season, not mandatory, but try having an accident.
Haven't noticed any difference in MPG or handling, but then I don't drive 10/10.
I always buy my cars with two complete set of tyres. No room in the garage? I make wall fittings to hang them on. Good for room, good for tyres.
Artics will do just fine, fitted with the correct tyres, but those with only one rear axle on the truck should stay where they belong, in the South of Europe.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:33
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WowZZ: Indeed. You are correct, my fault. Thank you.

Your address in Lincolnshire. I read that yesterday there were 20 different collisions within 3 hours, one or more fatal. I wonder how many were shod with summer boots. If the insurance companies levelled more blame at those who were, a la Germany, maybe there will be less during the next snow storm. Surely driving in snow on summer tyres is as negligent as drink driving; you are not fully in control of the vehicle and should invalidate part of the insurance.
The drink driving campaign worked, very much based on death & injury caused by stupidity. Yesterday there will have been crashes causing injury and death. Were they contributed to by summer tyres? Probably. Certainly blocked roads were.
So why not an awareness campaign to change peoples' habits. Same happened with smoking; yet every year we see this utter chaos being repeated.

What do they say about,

one is an accident,
twice is careless,
thrice is stupidity.

It's been repeated for decades.

Last edited by RAT 5; 1st Mar 2018 at 16:48.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:40
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Originally Posted by charliegolf View Post
Q for the petrolheads: what is the downside of having winter tyres on all the time? MPG? Handling?
It's a really bad idea to keep winter tires on through the summer. They generally have poor braking on wet roads, or dry roads at above freezing temperatures, and driving at high temperatures degrades the rubber so they become less grippy in the cold. And they knock about 10km/h off my safe cornering speeds.

I must admit, I have driven with my winter tires at over 20C before, but only because it was -30C and snowing a few days later so I kept them on until the snow season ended.

Plus they make my car sound like I'm driving a tractor over a bed of popcorn (I think that's the studs going in and out of the rubber as it turns).

And, yeah, we have $20 wheel racks in the corners of the garage, and stack the other set of wheels on there when we swap them over. But our garage is several times the size of one in the UK, if you're lucky enough to have one there.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:42
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No real need for winter tyres 99% of the time in the South where I am, so it is not really surprising that people don't have them. You rarely see them advertised and I imagine that a lot of people don't even know that you can get different tyres for the seasons.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:46
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There are 'all weather' tires now (e.g. Nokian make some), but I gather their performance tends to be merely adequate in all conditions, rather than good in the summer and lousy in the winter (or vice-versa).

Certainly winter tires made a vast difference to our Civic. We test-drove one at -40C with the OEM tires and it didn't want to start, stop or go round corners. With the winter tires we bought after buying the car, it doesn't really care about anything but cold sheet ice.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 16:52
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Got stuck behind a big new jag on Tuesday it's rear wheel drive just couldn't climb a very short incline and the weight of the thing was just too much to push. He had to try and turnaround and go another way.
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