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Top Gear's Very Sensible And Practical Winter Driving Tips
Stay safe in the snow with our vital consumer advice
Winter is upon us, which means the inevitable glut of driving ‘experts’ offering tips for staying safe on the road when it starts to snow.
These tips all offer the most grinding of variations on the same theme: dress up warm, leave plenty of time to get to work, give yourself more space to brake, lose the racing slicks.
Top Gear is of the opinion that if you look out the window, witness icy conditions and think, “Boardshorts? Check. Flip-flips? Check. Time to go tailgating lorries,” you frankly shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence.
But since everyone else is doing winter driving tips, we thought we’d give it a shot. So here, with our hi-vis jackets donned, are Top Gear’s Top Tips For Top Winter Driving…
1. Stay at home
Really. If all outside is all snow and ice, don’t bother driving. Crank the heating up. Put the kettle on. Break out the Homes Under The Hammer box-set. Your job really isn’t that important. No one’s going to miss you for a day. Unless you’re, like, a brain surgeon or something. You probably ought to go to work. In which case…
2. Borrow a Finnish rally driver
Sure, you can read every online tip on winter car control, but be honest, all the theory in world won’t make you as handy on ice as your average Finnish racer. Finns are born with frost in their blood, and vodka in their glovebox. They do not fear snow, or ice, or moose, or awkward silences. Finns are the guys to conquer your mildly icy school run.
If you can’t find a Finnish rally driver in your local neighbourhood, a Norwegian or Swedish rally driver may suffice. If you can’t find any of the above…
3. Buy an Avtoros Shaman
Less honest winter driving guides will attest that you can cross the most tundra-ish of landscapes simply by fitting winter tyres to your Peugeot 107. You can’t. Yes, winter tyres are good, but they’re not going to transform your skinny-wheeled city car into a mountain-crushing monster.
If you really want to defeat the snow, you need something a little more… fit for purpose. May Top Gear humbly recommend the eight-wheeled, 4.8-tonne Avtoros Shaman. For a mere £88,000, you’ll have something unlikely to be deterred by a dusting of snow on your commute. Or indeed anything else short of an actual missile strike.
If you can’t find an Avtoros Shaman in your local neighbourhood, a Merc 6x6 G-Wagen or Marauder may suffice. If those are a bit financially restrictive, then…
4. Move somewhere hotter
A rarely suggested but entirely practical answer to the winter-driving problem. Relocate to a country with warmer winters, or indeed no winters at all.
It very rarely snows in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and – at the time of writing at least – you can pick up a rather swanky many-bed residence for the cost of an on-street parking space in London. Or indeed an Avtoros Shaman. Too far from home? Then…
5. Move somewhere colder
What really scuppers the UK isn’t that it snows. It’s that it snows very occasionally after long periods of not-snowing, thus sending unprepared Brits into collective meltdown.
In the northern reaches of Scandinavia, no one gets their reindeer-hide undies in a twist when it snows. Which it does for the entire winter, and quite a bit of the rest of the year. In the Arctic Circle, they don’t call it ‘winter driving’. They call it ‘driving’.
6. Wear appropriate clothing
Sensible winter-driving-tip guides will soberly remind you not to leave the house without dressing in full Scott Of The Antarctic get-up, in case your car breaks down and you’re forced to build a rudimentary roadside igloo from soup tins until you get rescued.
Top Gear, however, recommends a rather different outfit for winter driving: pyjamas, dressing gown, slippers, maybe even a pipe of some kind.
Because, as we may have mentioned already, there’s only one winter driving tip you really need. If it’s belting with snow…
7. Just don’t drive.
You’ve got spaghetti hoops in the cupboard. You’ve got wifi. You’ve got Kerplunk. Sit it out.