4×4 Vehicles Come into Their Own
In the UK we have just experienced one of the wettest winter’s on record. As a nation we have been affected very severely by an exceptional run of winter storms, culminating in serious coastal damage and widespread, persistent flooding. Many home owners were evacuated from their flooded homes, and motorists had to abandon journeys because of impassable roads.
Was this an extraordinary run of inclement wet weather not to be repeated for decades or is this likely to be the scenario for many periods in the near future?
Recent studies have suggested an increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms that take a more southerly track, typical of this winter’s extreme weather. There is also an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world.
Many of us who commute or do the school run in the morning will have seen the ubiquitous 4×4’s dropping the kids off in the middle of the town or city! They have been known for decades as ‘Chelsea Tractors’ after the upmarket London borough in which their well-heeled 4X4 owners drive them.
However could it now be the case that our attitudes and opinions to the 4×4 vehicle and their owners is changing? West Country villagers cut off by floods have seen their lives made a little easier by teams of local helpers and volunteers who have offered to ferry them about in their 4×4.
4×4 response was established in Norfolk in 1999 but the idea has spread nationwide and now there are more than 1,500 volunteers, organised into regional groups. Everyone who joins is assessed and receives at least half a days training. 4×4 response has really come into its own with the increased risk of flooding and extremes of weather.
In circumstances where remote locations or uneven terrain are involved the emergency and voluntary services often find themselves without the correct resources. 4×4 Response groups, by one name or another, formally and informally, across the UK have voluntarily provided valuable support in these circumstances. In all weathers, at all times of the day and night 365 days a year.
This perception of the 4×4 driver, is far removed from the popular image of the modern 4×4 as simply a Chelsea tractor used for shopping trips to Selfridges and Harrods. With more and more of us wary of future weather predictions and forecasts has the time finally come for the 4×4 to take its rightful place in communities the length and breath of the country.