Blog: Winter boots
Simon Warburton | 25 November 2010
Living in the UK, I am used to the country grinding to an inexorable and sudden halt every time an inch of snow dares to fall on this sceptred isle.
However, last January's big chill when winter's bony hand gripped the UK was - like in so much of northern Europe - utterly ferocious.
Even more extraordinary then, that as we slithered and slipped to work that almost none of us gave a second thought to fitting some winter boots to our vehicles.
Much of Europe shakes its head in disbelief at the Brits' reluctance to embrace winter tyres - although some - namely Austria and Germany - make it a legal requirement for their citizens to strap on the upgraded wheels.
Having driven BMW's newly-designed X3 this week near Innsbruck however, with its mandated winter shoes, the difference is palpable.
Braking distances are significantly reduced of course and grip is hugely enhanced, while for the massive snow ploughs we saw, chains are the order of the day.
It is undoubtedly a hefty outlay to have to fork out for the upgraded tyres - BMW estimates around GBP1,200 - but perhaps the only way to enforce it is through legislation.
True, we British live for the most part, in a temperate, wet climate. But the relatively small performance trade-off with winter tyres will surely pay itself back many times over in terms of basic safety and peace of mind - how much would drivers notice any running cost increase?
Or will our climate simply mean the Brits will do what we usually do and muddle through, while looking at our continental cousins with muted admiration. £1,200 is a hefty wedge when we might only need the boots twice a year.
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