Driving in severe weather conditions

As temperatures are set to fall to -8 tonight, motorists are being warned of the dangers of driving in icy conditions.

All too often, drivers feel that they will be capable pf driving their vehicle in any type of weather, however, the majority of drivers fail to realise that different weather conditions bring with it, different driving conditions.

Met Éireann has issued Orange and Yellow Weather Warnings in parts of Ireland. Drivers and other road users need to take heed of these warnings, listen to the advice given and act on those advisory’s.

Drivers should always ensure that they are fully up to date with current and expected weather conditions before their journey.

Pic: (Dublin Fire Brigade via Twitter @DubFireBrigade)

In snow, clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer.  Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass. Remove ALL snow from your vehicle before you begin to drive. Any snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking, thereby causing sudden and severe restriction to your vision. It can also fall off during your drive and cause injury to pedestrians or a reflex action by another driver.

Photo:  (Declan Keogh via Twitter @DeclanTKeogh)

Black Ice – If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, black ice” one of winter’s worst hazards: Black Ice is difficult to see! It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. It can occur especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.

When driving, use dipped headlights at all times to ensure you are seen by other people using the roads. Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space.

The Road Safety Authority have a suite of safety advice videos available on their website. They also advise that, when driving in snow and icy conditions, slow down, use all controls delicately and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Avoid over steering and harsh braking and harsh acceleration. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.

Pic: (RSA via Twitter @RSAIreland)

Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front (Target Fixing). This can give a false sense of security and you will be too close to be able to brake safely. In heavy fog, turn off your radio and let down your driver’s window a fraction, so as you can hear other traffic.

The best thing to do in extremely bad weather is to stay off the road. Take heed of warnings not to go out and travel only if absolutely necessary. This leaves the emergency services free to deal with real emergencies.

With sunny spells also forecast for certain parts of the country, drivers are reminded of the danger posed by ‘sun glare’. Minimize risk by wearing sun glasses, ensuring your windscreen is clear of grease or grime inside and out and adding windshield washer fluid to the water in the reservoir.

Advice for pedestrians and cyclists:

While walking on footpaths and in public places, or entering and exiting your vehicle, don’t underestimate the danger of ice. Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the door step, on the path or while getting out of the car. Take extra care.