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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

Your 30-second guide to driving in the snow

Is it worth forking out for snow tyres? Only if it stays so cold. You might want to invest in “snow socks”, though…

Image: Chris Runoff via Flickr

COLD WEATHER like that we’re seeing in Ireland right now always raises a number of questions for wary motorists – such as whether it’s a good idea to invest in snow tyres or chains to keep you moving, or how to respond if you find yourself in a slippery situation.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the cost of specialised snow tyres could, depending on how long the weather lasts, be more expensive than the relative merit of them. Winter tyres can be particularly expensive, especially if the cold weather disappears just as quickly as it arrives.

Specialised winter tyres can set you back anywhere from €50 to €100 each depending on the size and quality you’re after, and it’s up to an individual driver to judge if the price of buying four of them is worth the added security and peace of mind.

Specialised tyres do, however, do the job: you’re not only be able to speed up and stop more quickly, but you’ll also be able to take corners more quickly too. There’s a reason that such tyres are legally compulsory in the winter months on continental Europe.

If you think winter tyres are possibly a step too far, or may take up too much space when the weather is less suited to them, there are other alternatives. Nowadays there are such things as ‘snow socks’, which are essentially the motoring equivalent of overshoes.


So just as someone might wear specialised overshoes over their regular shoes, in order to increase their grip, you can buy ‘socks’ for your tyres, which give them an extra coat of traction when they’re needed. And not only are they cheaper (generally) than the full tyres, but you’ll only need two of them – you only need to put them on your front wheels to help them get a better grip on the roads.

Regardless of your tyres, it’s important to be aware of your car’s strengths and limitations – particularly if, despite your tyres, you find yourself sliding.

If you’re slipping, don’t panic. Ease off the throttle and also on your steering, and wait for the car to respond. If you sliding and don’t have the luxury of time to fix , then – against your intuition – always remember to steer into the slide, and not away from it.

The reason for this is that you need to try and point your car in the same direction it’s already going, so that it’s easier to resume your traction and guide your car on the right direction.

Simple steps and common sense

Of course, all of the above advice is based on the assumption that you really need to drive wherever you’re going. If you can avoid driving or your journey is expendable, then you’re best advised simply not to travel.

Bear in mind that public transport will, generally, always try to get you where you need to go – but also bear in mind that if your bus or train has to stop its journey due to a change in the weather, you may be left without any way of moving on or returning home.

Similarly, a road you’re driving on may appear to be passable, but if the weather changes suddenly (and it’s still liable to do so) you could find yourself stuck in the car for longer than you thought – so, if you are driving, bring a blanket and a snack in case you’re stranded for longer than you thought.

Oh, and if you were hoping to find advice on how to cycle, our advice is simple: don’t.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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