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Top Gear Advice

Top Gear's Alternative Winter Driving Tips

When the temps drop, and roads are slicked with snow and ice, safety is king

Published: 16 Jan 2023

When the glassy roads require salt gritters and fluffy, white stuff makes the UK look like Narnia, you're mainly looking for advice on how to look after your precious motor, ways to stay safe on the snowy roads, or tips to drive a la rally star Catie Munnings on ice.

Top Gear is of the opinion that if you look out the window, see winter and think, “Boardshorts? Check. Flip-flops? Check. Time to go tailgating lorries", you frankly shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence.

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Safety first, folks.

And with that in mind, here are Top Gear’s Top Tips For Totally Safe Winter Driving…

1. Stay at home

Really. If all outside is all snow and ice, don’t bother driving. Get out the onesie, the fleecy blanket, toasty socks and 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…

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3. Buy a Ripsaw EV2

Less honest winter driving guides will attest that you can cross the tundra-like landscapes of Lincolnshire (the flattest county Blighty has) 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 Ripsaw EV2. For a mere $295,000, 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 a Ripsaw EV2 in your local neighbourhood, a Merc 6x6 G-Wagen may suffice. If that's a bit financially restrictive, then winter tyres aren't a bad shout after all.

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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 (much less, actually, factoring in the current dip in the housing market). 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. Pack the car up as though you'd be living in it

The sad truth is, drivers are more prone to accidents in bad weather. Since snowy conditions can increase collisions, pack your car like you'd need to hibernate for a few days.

Blanket, sleeping bag, winter coat, bottles of water, torch, power bank, gelatinous sugary treats - you never know when you might need them. And three months later when you've failed to clean out the car, you'll have something handy to soothe the bairn who won't stop asking 'how many more miles?' Parenting win.

7. 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…

8. Just don’t drive.

You’ve got spaghetti hoops in the cupboard. You’ve got wifi. You’ve got Kerplunk. Sit it out.

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