Temperatures are dropping across the country and heavy snow fall and ice is forecast in the coming days. Driving in these conditions can be unsettling and dangerous, preparation is key to staying safe on the roads in this hazardous weather.
Black ice can cause skidding, low sunlight reflects off the snow dazzling drivers and radiators can freeze. With that in mind, here are some tips from Carzone to stay safe and survive some of the worst conditions you may find on Irish roads.
Driving in snow and ice
- Only drive when it is necessary.
- Plan your route: Stick to the main roads which are safer and more likely to be gritted.
- Get a full tank of fuel: Then if you do happen to get stranded you can keep the engine running to keep warm.
- Bring a bag of supplies: Be prepared for any problems or delays. Bring food, water, warm clothes, a blanket, torch, first aid kit, fully charged mobile phone, jump leads, shovel, ice scraper, de-icing fluid and grit/sand/cat litter (for traction if you get stuck )
- Make sure your car is fit to travel: Check basic items, like all your fluids are topped up and your tyres are not worn out.
- Clear the entire windscreen with de-icer fluid or scraper, not just a peephole: Make sure the window wipers are not stuck to the window. Also clear the side and rear mirrors, front and back lights, door mirrors and number plate.
- Clear any snow off the roof of your car: This can easily slide down while driving and block your view again.
- Steer, accelerate and brake smoothly: Abrupt changes and manoeuvres can result in loss of grip and control.
- Listen to the surface: If the sudden crunch of driving on snow stops, you may be on ice.
- If you skid: Do not break, this may prolong the skid. Take your foot of the accelerator and wait for the skid to stop. If you begin to spin, steer in the car in the direction the rear of your car is sliding. Do not overcorrect, or you will need to turn in the opposite direction,
Rain and flooding
- Go slow: This may sound like a no brainer, but speed is a serious factor in wet conditions. Speed limits are for normal road conditions, so you should adjust them to ensure you can stop comfortably.
- Manoeuvre lightly: Abrupt manoeuvres will unbalance the car, so steer, brake and turn lightly.
- Do not use cruise control: Using cruise control is a great feature when it is dry, but when it is wet the chance of losing control greatly increases. To prevent this happening you might need to reduce your speed by taking your foot off the accelerator which cannot be done when cruise control is engaged.
- Use the middle lane: A few inches of water can cause engine damage or aquaplaning. Roads usually slope to the sides so puddles can form there, so by using the middle lane you can minimise the risk of hitting these and continue on safely.
- Do not open the bonnet if you do breakdown: If you are unfortunate enough to break down, do not open the bonnet in the rain while you wait for the roadside assistance to arrive. Wet conditions can soak the electrics, making it more difficult to start the engine.
- Check the depth: Do not attempt to go through more than six inches of standing water or four inches of moving water. Watch other traffic attempt the flooded area if needs be.
- Drive slowly and steadily: Crawl through the water very slowly in first gear. Try to stay on the crown of the road and keep the revs up. Once through, let oncoming traffic pass you and then test the brakes.
- Do not drive fast: If you speed through a flooded area you could risk aquaplaning and lose control. If you do aquaplane, hold the wheel lightly and lift off the accelerator until you regain control. Air intake on many cars is also low at the front engine bay so only small amounts of water can be sucked in before causing damage.
- Stop water getting into the exhaust by keeping the revs high: Do this by slipping the clutch. This will prevent the engine from stalling.