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Ten tips for driving in the snow and icy conditions, as temperatures plummet across the country

Motorists advised to drive with caution during cold snap

Winter driving

Preparation, patience and practicality are important when driving in wintry conditions

With temperatures dropping across the country and snow and ice forecast in the coming days, motorists are encouraged to drive with caution as these weather conditions can be unsettling, dangerous and hazardous.

Preparation, patience and practicality are key when it comes to driving in snow, frost, ice and other winter road conditions.

Carzone, Ireland’s ultimate motoring marketplace, has put together ten helpful tips for motorists to stay safe while driving in these difficult weather conditions.

1.Check your tyres- Your tyres are your only point of contact with the road so it’s crucial to make sure they are winter ready. Check both your tyres and your spare tyre and replace any with a tread depth below 3mm. Check the tyre pressure to ensure that that the tyres are inflated properly. Grip is one of the most important aspects of winter driving - it’s important to be aware that lack of grip can occur on treated roads.

2.Try to improve visibility- Get into a routine each morning, giving yourself extra time to de-ice and clear your windows and mirrors. Use a scraper and de-icer solution to clear windows. Using hot water to do this could cause a crack in the glass. Check that your windshield wiper blades are in good working condition and make sure that the washer system works and is stocked with de-icer fluid. Snowy conditions will impair your visibility, have sunglasses on hand for glare and reduce your speed.

3.Check and use your lights - Ensure your headlights and taillights are in working order and replace any damaged bulbs. Clear the lights of snow and use dipped headlights while driving so others will see you on the road.

4.Drive slowly - Slow driving is a must during snowy conditions or when driving on icy roads. Manoeuvre gently, drive slowly and allow extra time for stopping distances. Avoid turning the steering wheel too much and braking or accelerating harshly. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spinning and use a lower gear when travelling downhill.

5.Beware of black ice - Black ice is one of winter’s worst hazards, it is translucent and can be difficult to see. It’s best identified as a polished or glossy effect on a road, occurring mostly in sheltered or shaded areas on the road, under trees and next to high walls. The general rule is to do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice. Do not hit the brakes and try to keep the steering wheel straight. If you feel the back end of your car sliding left or right, make a very gentle turn of the steering wheel in the same direction.

6.Be ready to brake - Before you set off in winter weather check if your car has an anti-lock brake system. If you get into a skid the ABS begins cycling, causing you to feel pulses in the pedal. Using anti-lock brakes is easy, just remember, step, stay and steer. Step on the pedal, stay on the pedal and steer around the obstacle. Again, a little steering goes a long way so be gentle while manoeuvering. If your car doesn’t have ABS you will need to apply cadence braking. This involves pushing the brake pedal until the wheels stop rolling, then immediately releasing the brake enough to allow the wheels to begin turning again. Repeat these actions rapidly to give your tyres maximum grip, regardless of whether the surface is snow or ice.

7.Check if your car has extra features that could help- Consult your car’s owner manual to find out if it has any safety assist systems such as electronic stability control or the anti-lock braking system mentioned above. Know how to use these systems but do not overestimate their abilities.

8.When driving in bad weather or on icy roads it’s recommended to be prepared-  Bring food, water, warm clothes, a blanket, torch, first aid kit, a fully-charged mobile phone, jump leads, ice scraper, de-icing fluid and grit/sand/cat litter (for traction if you get stuck).

9.Check the weather - Listen to local weather and traffic reports from  reliable and up to date sources. Check if there are closures or diversions to your route and really consider if driving is a safe option. Follow the guidelines given by authorities.

10.Know when to stay at home - The best advice to follow in adverse weather conditions is to stay at home. Avoid driving at all costs if you can. Respect the experts’ advice and avoid being in an accident on the roads. Your safety is what’s most important, everything else can wait.

For more news see Met Eireann issues snow warning


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