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Driving in Severe Weather Conditions

The RSA (Road Safety Authority) advises:

If driving in icy or snowy conditions drivers should:

Greater levels of observation, anticipation and concentration are required when driving in icy conditions
Check local and National weather forecasts before setting out on a journey.

  • Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer.
  • Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass.
  • Remove ALL snow from your vehicle before commencing your journey.
  • Snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking, thereby causing sudden and severe restriction to your vision.
  • It can also fall off during your drive and cause injury to pedestrians or a reflex action by another driver.
  • Remember! it takes longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road. Drive slowly and allow extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin.
  • Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.
  • If driving an automatic, familiarise yourself with the Manual Override function. This will allow you manually select an appropriate gear so as to avoid braking where that might lead to skidding.
  • Manoeuvre gently, avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
  • To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, using the clutch smoothly and allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently.
  • Remember that heavy snowfall and rain reduce visibility. Use dipped headlights and decrease speed smoothly.
  • Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered/shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
  • Before setting out check your tyres, including spare wheel, to ensure minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and correct tyre pressure.

  • Drivers are encouraged to carry and ice scraper and de-icer as part of an “emergency kit

In the event of a minor skid do the following:

If your vehicle begins to skid you should:

  • Identify the cause – It is either: Too much Braking; Too much Steering; Too much Acceleration or a combination of one or all of these.
  • Remove the cause – GENTLY and SMOOTHLY
  • If your car has ABS it will NOT skid under braking. If ABS is activated, and start to skid, KEEP your foot on the brake and steer around that which caused you to brake

  • If your car does not have ABS and starts to skid on the brakes, pump the brake pedal very fast (Cadence Braking) and steer around that which caused you to brake.
  • If your vehicle skids and slews sideways -Turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid and ease off the accelerator at the same time.
  • Avoid over correction with too much steering.
  • Be ready for a secondary skid.

Advice for Pedestrians, Cyclists & Motorcyclists

If a journey cannot be avoided walk on a footpath, not in the street. If there are no footpaths walk on the right hand side of the road (towards oncoming traffic).

  • Visibility is reduced in snowy condition so wear high visibility clothing or carry a torch and ensure the lights on your bike are working correctly.
  • Cyclists should adhere to the requirement of a solid white light to the front and a red solid light to the rear.
  • Wear an approved helmet and consider clear eye protection.
  • Motorcyclists/Cyclists should not compromise their safety by their ‘need’ to travel in icy/snow conditions. Cancel your journey or take alternative transport.
  • Motorcyclists should avoid wearing a dark visor in any bad light conditions.
  • Remember other road users may not ‘expect’ you and could therefore comprise your safety

For further information for all road users in severe weather conditions, please visit the following link:  
Road Safety Authority Severe Weather Advice