SUV drivers need to get a grip on reality, says fleet company

Company car drivers need to be warned of the limitations of their vehicles in winter driving conditions, Arval is warning, highlighting SUVs as a prime example

Driver in the snow

Driving an SUV in the snow doesn’t turn you into Clacket Lane’s answer to Stig Blomqvist. That’s the underlining message of a press release issued by fleet management company, Arval UK.

It says that company car drivers may need to be warned of the limitations of their vehicles during the winter, pointing to the SUV as a ‘prime example’.

In other words, while some drivers think their hatchback on stilts gives them WRC-like levels of talent, they end up looking more like Todd Carty on Dancing on Ice.

If you’ve ever wondered why the Met Office and Highways Agency are very quick to warn drivers to stay at home when the weather outside is so frightful, it’s because they don’t want to see the road network littered with stranded SUVs and crossovers.

Arval says that the glut of relatively lightweight, two-wheel-drive SUVs offer no real advantage over a ‘normal’ car.

Indeed, drivers would do well to explore the benefits of winter tyres, which would be cheaper than getting locked into a lengthy PCP contract, and could mean that they get home for Christmas before Chris Rea.

Closing the perceptual gap

Nissan Qashqai stuck in snow

“The fact is that SUVs of this kind can get stuck in poor weather as easily as any other vehicle, potentially creating a hazardous situation for the driver who needs to be rescued. There is very much a gap between the driver’s perception of their vehicle and the reality,” said Shaun Sadlier, head of consulting at Arval.

“Driving in poor conditions is a very definite skill and not something to be attempted without the right vehicle and the right training,” he continued.

“Our advice to fleets would be to ensure that drivers have a clear understanding of the kind of weather in which they are expected to drive, to know about the limitations of their particular vehicle and stay well within them, and to seek advice if they have any doubts.”

The best advice? Buy an old Saab 9000 for a few hundred quid, order a set of winter tyres, then spend the snowy days dodging the stricken SUVs left abandoned at the roadside. You know it makes sense.

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.


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