Be prepared winter

IT was only the seat belt that stopped me being propelled through the windscreen of our friends Volvo car when he suddenly applied the brakes.

I must add that at the time my wife and I were being shown around the large island of Rugen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%BCgen) which is off Germany’s north coast in the Baltic Sea.

The temperatures were around minus 12C and the road was covered in compacted snow, fortunately we were only doing about 40mph at the time and the car stopped in a straight line almost immediately.

The reason for this was simply winter tyres.

My own car in the UK would have slid like a sledge with such a manoeuvre and possibly have gone off the road or hit another vehicle, but not our friend’s trusty steed.

We were impressed. Our friend, who had only stopped abruptly because he had nearly overshot a left turn that he wanted to make, was totally unfazed. His car would stop like this every time. No big deal. In Germany it is compulsory to change to ‘winter tyres’ sometime in November and then they can revert to ‘summer tyres’ in April.

Last year, an Alnwick taxi driver told me that he had just replaced his tyres with winter tyres, he was amazed at how differently the car handled and was surprised at the places his taxi would be able to drive to all because he had changed his tyres.

I think there is definitely a lesson to be learned, in my case pleased that I was wearing a seat belt (and therefore didn’t end up like a pizza on the windscreen) but reasured that when our friend wanted his car to stop, he knew that it would. I’m off to the garage next week.

Bruce Hewison,

West Acre House,

Alnwick