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Winter Driving

It's interesting to see how well Finland copes with wintry conditions that would leave Britain snowbound with people dying in the streets. After a heavy snowfall here, there are snowploughs, bulldozers, diggers, and even pick-up trucks with snowploughs fitted to them everywhere keeping roads open. Tyre chains are now banned on tarmac roads due to the damage they cause to the road surface, but from the end of October onwards it's illegal to use a vehicle which doesn't have winter tyres fitted. The Finns think that we're crazy driving around in Britain in the snow with summer tyres, and they are right - studded or winter tyres make an incredible difference to traction on the snow and ice.

Putting salt on the roads was found to be polluting the lakes and streams over time and so Finland now does a minimal amount of salting on their roads. This means that non-major roads are no longer treated; you just have to drive carefully, and on many of the main roads they now use a chemical liquid, which does much less harm to the environment, and appears to work incredibly well, instead of salt.

Tonight it's about -15c outside, a relatively warm evening, and if you want to be able to start your car in the morning, you have to plug it in. Cars here have a mains power socket on the outside, which keeps the battery charged in extremely low temperatures, and heats the car, stopping it turning into a block of ice overnight.

The standard of driving is very high here as well - a year or so after you've passed your driving test, you get night-driving and skid-pan tuition. The roads would be littered with wreckage if the population of Britain came over to drive here for a winter.

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