Taking a number of simple precautions can ensure safety on Irish roads during winter. No one wants to get caught out if severe weather hits, so make the necessary checks on your vehicle now.
There are a number of simple precautions the RSA advises for driving over the winter months.
1. Check tyres...they are the only contact with the road, Tyres should be at least the minimum legal thread depth of 1.6mm, but need to be changed before they get this worn. Tyres need to be to the correct tyre pressure to give the motorist the best chance in extreme conditions.
2. Use lights. Coming into the winter months, motorists are advised to use dipped head lights during the day so they are easily seen. Headlights and taillights should be in working order.
3. Understand the brakes. Check the car's manual and find out if the vehicle has safety assist technology such as Electronic Stability Control or Anti-Lock Braking System. Learn how these technologies can assist driving in harsh weather conditions.
4. Safe Distance. It takes longer to stop a car during the winter weather so slow down and allow extra distance between your car and the car in front.
5. Make sure you can clearly see. All too often motorists do not de-fog or de-ice windows and mirrors which can compromise visibility. This winter ensure windows and mirrors are clear, and carry a de-icer and screen scraper. Do not use boiling water as this can crack the windscreen.
6. Beware of “black ice”. Black ice is one of winter’s biggest hazards as it is difficult to see. Watch out for sheltered/shaded areas on roads, under trees and near high walls.
7. Be prepared. During these winter months it is advised motorists carry a number of essentials in the boot of their car.
• High visibility vest
• Spare fuel
• Appropriate footwear in case you need to leave your vehicle, eg, boots
• A hazard warning triangle
• Spare wheel. Check the spare wheel is in good condition and is fully inflated. Some cars may have an inflation repair kit instead of a spare wheel. Make sure you know how to use it.
• Tow Rope
• A shovel De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks )
• Spare bulbs
• First aid kit
• A fire extinguisher
• A working torch
• A car blanket, additional clothing & some food and water
8. In the event of a breakdown. Drivers need to ensure their vehicle is well in off the road so as not to obstruct other vehicles. The driver should also put on their hazard warning lights. If the vehicle breaks down on the motorway, pull in as far as you can, alerting traffic behind you with hazard lights. The driver should leave their vehicle, get behind the barrier (on the embankment ) and call the Gardai on their mobile phone or roadside telephone.
9. Keep up to date. Listen to local weather and traffic reports. Pay heed to the weather warnings alerting drivers of unsafe and dangerous driving conditions.
10. Check out the RSA’s publication Severe Weather Advice for Road Users for more detailed advice on what to do if severe weather strikes.
For a free tyre check, contact Kevin Burke Tyres, Galway 091-769636; Gort 091-632800 and Athenry 091-845329.