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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 27 January 2021

Tips and tricks: What driving measures can you take to keep you safe

With many areas experiencing snow and ice, here are some tips to help keep you safe on the roads.

Image: Driving in winter via Shutterstock

WITH THE COLD weather upon us it’s even harder to leave that nice warm bed behind.

For those who need to hit the road, ice and snow can make getting from A to B a lot more difficult.

On a day in which AA Roadwatch attended to more than 400 breakdowns on Ireland’s roads, what steps can you take to help keep you motoring?

Before you leave

AA Roadwatch recommend getting up 10 minutes earlier than normal during periods of snow and ice. This will give you the time to start your journey in a safe and timely manner.

  • Don’t use boiling water to remove the ice from your windows, as this can crack glass.
  • Do use a window scraper or de-icer instead.
  • Do give your battery a chance. Switch on the car first before turning on anything else.
  • Do clear snow from the roof before you leave to avoid it from becoming a distraction as you are driving.
  • Do make sure that your headlights are clear of ice and snow.
  • Don’t drive off until you can see clearly in all directions.
  • Do make sure all your lights are working, including the ones you don’t use, or test, too often, such as fog lights.
  • Do make sure you have a winter driving kit that will cover you in all eventualities.
  • Do be conscious of the extra strain on your battery, etc, before switching on the heating and other power drains.

When on the road

When driving in snow and ice, it is important to remember that stopping distances are up to 10 times longer than during normal conditions. Other recommendations from AA Roadwatch for when behind the wheel are as follows:

  • Don’t make any sudden directional changes. Each change of direction should be as gradual as possible.
  • Do wear comfortable footwear, ensuring that the soles are not wet or snow covered. Having a second set of footwear in the vehicle will help.
  • Do try to stay to main roads as much as possible. These are more likely to have seen more traffic (a good thing) and may have been gritted.
  • Don’t clock-watch once you’re on the road. If you haven’t left in time, don’t try to make it up by doing anything silly. If getting to work on time is an absolute must, vow to get up earlier the following morning.
  • Do think about how you’re going to get up that hill. Try to plan ahead by making sure you won’t have to stop at any point. It’s also beneficial to choose the correct gear before you start your ascent.

If skidding

  • Do know whether your car has ABS or not. If it does, you can keep the break pedal pressed – the car will look after releasing and reapplying the brake.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator completely but do reduce acceleration.
  • Do use the highest gear possible under the conditions. As you brake, use engine breaking by moving down the gears. This will help reduce speed.
  • Do make the correct driving decision if using an automatic. Some automatic vehicles will have a ‘winter’ mode.

If on a motorcycle, make sure you adhere to these winter tips.

Read: You told us what you thought saved petrol, so which of them actually work? >

About the author:

Paul Hyland

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