The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is renewing its message for road users to take extra care on the roads as the weather is going to stay very cold through to the first week of the New Year with northeasterly winds coming down over Ireland from Polar regions.
Road users are urged to check local weather and traffic reports before setting off on a journey. In particular road users should heed any Garda advice urging motorists not to make any unnecessary journeys.
Specifically the RSA has issued the following advice for drivers when driving in snow or icy conditions:
• It takes longer to stop a vehicle on icy roads so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front.
• 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 commencing your journey.
• 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.
• Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin.
• Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.
• Manoeuvre gently, avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
• To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, using the clutch smoothly and allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently.
• Remember that heavy snowfall will reduce visibility. Use dipped headlights and decrease speed smoothly.
• Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered/shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
• Check tyres, including spare wheel, to ensure minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and correct tyre pressure.
• Check in your owners manual and find out if your vehicle has any safety assist technology like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) and know how they assist your driving
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are advised;
• If a journey cannot be avoided walk on a footpath, not in the street. If there are no footpaths walk on the right hand side of the road (towards oncoming traffic).
• Visibility is reduced in snowy condition so wear high visibility clothing or carry a torch and ensure the lights on your bike are working correctly.
• Cyclists should ensure their bike has the required solid white light to the front and a red solid light to the rear.
• Wear an approved helmet and consider clear eye protection.
• Motorcyclists/Cyclists should not compromise their safety by their ‘need’ to travel in icy/snow conditions. Cancel your journey or take alternative transport.
• Motorcyclists should avoid wearing a dark visor in any bad light conditions.
• Remember other road users may not ‘expect’ you and could therefore comprise your safety
If your vehicle begins to skid you should:
• Identify the cause – It is either, Too much Braking, Too much Steering, Too much Acceleration or a combination of one or all of these.
• Remove the cause – GENTLY and SMOOTHLY
• If your car has ABS it will NOT skid under braking. If ABS is activated, KEEP your foot on the brake and STEER around whatever caused you to brake.
• If you car does not have ABS and starts to skid on the brakes, pump the brake pedal very fast (Cadence Braking) and steer around whatever caused you to brake.
• If your vehicle skids and slews sideways -Turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid and ease off the accelerator at the same time.
• Avoid over correction with too much steering.
• Be ready for a secondary skid.
For more information the RSA’s publication ‘Severe Weather Advice for Road Users’ can be downloaded from the RSA’s website http://www.rsa.ie/Home/upload/File/Homepage/Severe_Weather_advice_road_users_ET.pdf
To check weather updates visit Met Eireann’s website www.met.ie.