Friday 9 December 2016

Top tips to stay safe on roads in the Irish winter

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

Check your tyre pressure regularly
Check your tyre pressure regularly

As the weather turns colder and the nights grow darker ,our risk of snow may be slim but one thing is certain - the winter brings heavy rain and floods, so it's the time for extra care on the roads.

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One of many risks of driving in winter is aquaplaning. This occurs when a layer of water forms between your tyres and the road surface and this causes the water in front of your tyres to build up faster than your car's weight can push it out.

The result is your tyre loses contact with the road and you are in danger of skidding or even going off the road.

These top tips will keep you safe:

• Check your tyre pressure regularly as under- or over-inflated tyres will not spread the tyre thread evenly from the centre and this will reduce their effectiveness for maintaining grip in wet weather.

• Pay particular attention to the condition of your tyres. Make sure your tyre tread is legal: the more tread you have, the more grip you will get.

• Slow down when roads are wet and if you see an area of water on the road, change down gear and slow down even more.

• Stay away from puddles or where water collects.

• If the worst happens, don't panic, brake or turn suddenly, just ease your foot off the accelerator until the car slows and you can feel the road again. Leave the steering set straight ahead.

Floods have become a feature of winter driving and the danger is not simply the risk of getting stuck. If you flood the exhaust of your car, it will cause the engine to stop, causing serious engine damage. In fast-moving water, you run the risk that the car will be carried off into a deeper flood.

• Do not drive into water if you're unsure of its depth.

• Drive on the highest section of the road and don't set off if a vehicle is approaching you.

• Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.

• Drive slowly and keep going once you have started - make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high all the time you are in the water.

• If you can't see where you are going to come out of the water, think twice about starting to drive into it.

• In deep water, never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe.

• Once you're out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking that nothing is following you too closely.

Sunday Independent

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