Tips for taking the road less gravelled
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has reissued its advice for drivers in snow and icy conditions. It includes:
Get a grip. Check tyres, including spare wheel, and replace them if the tread depth falls below 3mm. Check that tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressure. Lack of grip can occur even on treated roads so drive slowly in the highest gear possible, manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking. Replace tyres if necessary.
Make sure you can see. 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. Replace windshield wiper blades if necessary. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid.
The glare from the sun can be dazzling in the winter so wear sunglasses.
Check & use your lights. Use your dipped headlights so that others will see you. Make sure your headlights and tail lights are all in working order.
Gently does it. Manoeuvre gently, slow down and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Too much steering is bad and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. Select a low gear when travelling downhill, especially if through bends. Falling snow, fog, rain, or hail reduces visibility. When you slow down, use your brakes so that the brake lights warn drivers behind you.
If the road looks polished or glossy it could be 'black ice'. It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle.
Give yourself a brake. If you get into a skid, you need to know if your vehicle has ABS (Anti- Lock Braking Systems). After you 'step' on the brake the ABS begins cycling -- you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working. It's easy to properly use antilock brakes: remember -- Step, Stay and Steer. Step on the pedal. Stay on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle.
For vehicle's without ABS, you'll have to rely on the old-fashioned 'cadence braking' system: push the brake pedal until the wheels stop rolling, then immediately release the brake enough to allow the wheels to begin turning again. Repeat this sequence rapidly.
Listen to weather and traffic reports. The RSA has a new section of its website rsa.ie dedicated to 'Severe Weather Advice for Road Users'.