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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 8 December 2021

Planning to drive this week? Here's the advice for car-owners ahead of the severe wintry weather

Here’s what to do before you set out, or if you encounter snow or ice.

shutterstock_772595893 Snow in the Wicklow Mountains (file). Source: Shutterstock

MET ÉIREANN ISSUED a status orange weather warning today in advance of what are expected to be near-blizzard like conditions later this week.

Further advisories will be issued by the weather service later in the week, Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack said this morning – adding that it’s possible a nationwide red warning (the most severe category) could be issued in the coming days.

Weather conditions are set to deteriorate progressively in the next few days, and a spell of persistent and heavy snow is expected to sweep across the country from the east on Thursday night and into Friday morning.

In advance of the severe wintry weather, the Road Safety Authority has issued a number of checklists for drivers on how to prepare your vehicle and how to respond to snowy and icy conditions.

All road users should check national and local forecasts before setting out on any journey, the RSA advises.

What you can do now:

Here’s how to make sure your car is ready for the cold snap:

  • Ensure tyres are roadworthy, inflated to the correct pressure and the thread depth is above the legal minimum of 1.6mm
  • Make sure vehicle lights are clean and working properly
  • Make sure windscreen wipers are not worn and there is de-icer in the windshield washing fluid
  • Have an ice scraper handy

Drivers are advised to carry a number of essentials in the boot:

  • High visibility vest
  • Appropriate footwear in case you need to leave your vehicle e.g. boots
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks)
  • First aid kit
  • A working torch
  • A blanket, additional clothing & some food and water

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You should also familiarise yourself with any safety assist features on your vehicle like ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control, which help in the event of a skid.

Before you set out:

  • Clear windows and mirrors before you set out, use 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 – snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking

File Photo Another Big Freeze Coming. End. Snow in the Phoenix Park in 2010. Source: RollingNews.ie/Photocall Ireland

When you’re on the road:

  • 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, 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
  • In blizzard conditions, visibility will be reduced greatly. Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front – you will be too close to be able to brake safely
  • In heavy snow, use your fog lights, turn off your radio and open your window a fraction, so you can hear other traffic, especially at junctions
  • Use dipped headlights at all times, and fog lights in heavy snow to ensure you are seen by other motorists (but don’t forget to turn them off afterwards)
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space
  • Drivers of high sided vehicles like trucks and buses are particularly at risk from both the dangers posed by snow but also from the high winds associated with blizzard conditions

Pedestrians are advised to:

  • Be seen. Wear bright clothing but ideally wear a high visibility jacket, reflective armband or reflective belt
  • Wear appropriate footwear. Walk on the footpath, not in the street
  • Walk on the right hand side of the road, facing traffic if there are no footpaths
  • DO NOT 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 doorstep, on the path or while getting out of the car
  • When you approach a footpath or roadway that appears to be covered with snow or ice, always use extreme caution

Cyclists and motorcyclists are advised:

  • Motorcyclists/cyclists should not compromise their safety by their ‘need’ to travel in icy/snow conditions. Cancel your journey or take alternative transport
  • Visibility is reduced in snowy conditions so cyclists should wear a high visibility vest and ensure their lights are working correctly
  • Motorcyclists should avoid wearing a dark visor in any bad light conditions
  • Remember other road users may not ‘expect’ you and could therefore compromise your safety

Read: Taxis won’t be allowed to use some College Green roads during rush hour >

Related: Status Orange snow-ice warning issued for seven counties as temperatures set to plunge to -7 >

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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