The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has today issued a ‘Road Safety Alert’ following a forecast from Met Éireann indicating that Saturday and Sunday night will be very cold with temperatures falling to as low as minus three degrees. Winds will be light and mist and fog patches will develop. There will be a risk of widespread frost and possibly ice.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has the following advice for road users in ice and fog conditions.
Get a grip. Remember your only contact with the road surface is your tyres so it’s vital that they are up to the task in icy and snowy conditions. 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. De-mist the inside of your windows thoroughly. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. Watch out for grit/salt spreaders.
Check and use your lights. Use your dipped headlights so that others will see you. Make sure your headlights and taillights are all in working order, replace broken bulbs.
Gently does it. Manoeuvre gently, slow down and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Fog, rain, or hail will reduces visibility. Do not hang on to the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you as it can give a false sense of security. When you slow down, use your brakes so that the brake lights warn drivers behind you. Don’t forget to turn off your fog lights when the fog has cleared.
Watch out for “black ice.” If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, “black ice” one of winter’s worst hazards: Black Ice is difficult to see! It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
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. (A warning: A little bit of steering goes a very long way in an emergency).
For vehicles 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.
Get informed. 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’. It has lots more useful advice on dealing with the difficult road conditions.
Advice for Pedestrians & Cyclists;
While walking on footpaths and in public places, or entering and exiting your car or truck, DO NOT underestimate the dangers of frost and ice.
Each winter slips and fall accidents cause serious injuries. Even when surfaces do not look especially icy or slippery, it is very possible that a thin sheet of transparent ice or “Black Ice” is covering your pathway putting you at risk.
Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the door step, on the path or while getting out of the car.
If you are out walking in icy conditions wear appropriate footwear, don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, walk with your hands out and wear gloves so you can break your fall if you do slip.
Visibility is reduced in fog, hail or rain so wear high visibility clothing or carry a torch and if you cycle make sure your bike is fitted with lights front and rear.
For more advice on road use in winter and severe weather conditions please visit the Severe Weather Advice section of the RSA website.