Driving in bad weather – stay safe behind the wheel!
Ireland’s unpredictable weather can present regular challenges to drivers. In
all conditions drivers should exercise due care and attention while driving. Severe weather conditions pose increased risks, but a little preparation and precaution in adverse driving conditions can save you from unnecessary incident,expense, delay and can ultimately save lives.
Preparing to Travel
- Get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car.
- Clear all windows of snow and ice using a scraper and de-icer. . .
- Plan routes to favour major roads which are more likely to have been gritted.
- Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. While it’s always a good idea to allow extra time in winter for your journey, drivers must accept the inevitability of being late for work if they are caught up in an unexpected delay.
How should I drive in heavy rain or a storm?
- If you see surface water ahead, slow down in advance.
- When driving in wet conditions, be aware of wet pedals, wet hands/steering wheel and condensation in the car. All can prove a distraction.
- Check your car regularly, particularly in wet weather. Specifically check wipers, tyres, demister and brakes. Test your brakes after driving through water to dry them.
- Always observe the 2 second rule in dry conditions and at least 4 seconds in wet conditions. Pick a point the car in front passes and count to 4 before you pass it. If you cannot count to 4, you are too close to stop safely.
- High winds will affect the stability of your car. If driving a high sided vehicle you will be particularly susceptible to high winds which can cause your vehicle to swerve. Slow down and avoid travelling too close to or beside vehicles on dual carriageways.
- Watch out for debris and leaves and when you reach your destination. During a storm or heavy winds, do not park under trees, overhanging structures or near unstable structures.
How should I drive in fog?
- Ensure you turn off fog lamps out of fog – they DO blind drivers in normal conditions.
- Use dipped headlights, as with snow. Hi beams will be reflected back at the driver, and make conditions worse.
- Stay in lane, avoid overtaking and pay close attention to road markings to avoid disorientation
What should I consider when driving in snow and ice?
- When possible, carry a can of de-icer, a plastic windscreen scraper, a first aid kit, a mobile and charger, a torch and batteries, jumper cables & tow rope, a warning triangle, a hi viz jacket, your car tool kit and winter clothes.
- A simple but invaluable addition is a small shovel to allow you dig out snow and clear in front of wheels.
- Drive only as fast as conditions allow, and remember that stopping distances are up to ten times longer in ice and snow;
- In advance, check your battery, antifreeze, lights/bulbs, tyres, wipers, fluids, fuel, heater and demister -in addition to your normal recommended vehicle checks.
- Try to avoid hill climbs or descents by planning your journey in advance.
- To maintain traction change gear gently and smoothly.
- If you do not have ABS, gently touch brakes, release and repeat. This will
allow the wheels to re-grip and prevent prolonged wheel locking.
- In heavy snow fall consider using hazard lights if visibility is particularly poor.