Monday 24 April 2017

Top tips and safety advice for driving in snow and ice

GET up at least 20 minutes earlier to prepare the car. Car batteries struggle in cold weather and a weak battery will be found out. Give the battery a chance. Start the car first and don't switch on other electrics until after it has started. Clear all windows of snow and ice using a scraper and de-icer. Pouring a kettle on the windows is not a good idea. It could weaken or even crack the glass. Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key for a frozen lock. Don't breathe on the lock, as the moisture will condense and freeze. Besides an ice scraper and de-icer, it's worth carrying a mobile phone with fully charged battery, torch, first-aid kit, tow rope, blankets, warm coat and boots coat , jump leads, snow shovel, warning triangle, and an old sack (to put under the wheels if you do get stuck) and water repellent spray. Wear comfortable, dry shoes: cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals. Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow. Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving. Select second gear when pulling away, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin. When climbing a hill, it's important to avoid having to stop on the hill by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room between you and the car in front. Try to maintain a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill. When driving downhill, reduce your speed before the hill , use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes. Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front. Always apply brakes gently. Release them and de-clutch if the car skids. If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground. Plan routes to favour major roads, which are more likely to have been gritted. Put safety before punctuality . While it's always a good idea to allow extra time, drivers must accept the inevitability of being late for work if they are caught up in an unexpected delay.

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Irish Independent

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