Tips for driving in snow and icy conditions

Motoring reporter


Motoring reporter

Met Eireann issues snow and ice warning for Kildare

AA Ireland has top tips for staying safe on the roads.

Driving in snow and ice can be challenging to even the most experienced driver. Even worse it can be dangerous to yourself, your passengers and those around you. Here is some advice from AA Ireland on how to deal with dangerous road conditions this winter. Taking care and understanding how your vehicle’s handling will change on snow and ice covered roads can help reduce the danger.

Driving in Snow and Ice

  • Slow down - Drive only as fast as conditions allow, and remember that stopping distances are up to ten times longer in ice and snow.
  • Make gentle adjustments - Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in heavy snow.
  • Wear proper shoes - Wear comfortable, dry shoes: cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals.
  • Where possible avoid travel on untreated roads: We acknowledge this isn't always possible, but keep to main roads as they are more likely to be gritted. If you have to travel on untreated roads adjust your speed accordingly.
  • Clear snow from the roof and windows BEFORE driving: Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows. Snow piled up on the roof can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view and can also be a hazard to other road users.
  • Ensure you are visible: Also make sure that snow is cleared from your headlights and use your dipped lights at all times. Use your fog lights in freezing fog and switch them off afterwards.

What to do if you find yourself skidding
Most modern cars have ABS – anti-lock braking system – and many also have Electronic Stability Control. ABS is a brilliant invention. It means that the car automatically releases the brakes and regrips them many times per second. This means the driver can press the brake pedal and keep it pressed – the car does the work for you.

Non-ABS brakes on older cars are different. They simply stop the wheel completely and that means skidding. While there are advanced driving techniques (‘pumping’ the brake pedal) these won’t be learned in a day and it is far easier to manage your driving so that you never need to brake sharply.

  • Don’t brake fast under any circumstances – if it’s too late and you have already braked, release them immediately, then reapply, quicker but gently.
  • Reduce acceleration but don’t take your foot off the accelerator completely.
  • Use the highest gears possible under the conditions, and as you gently brake, move down in your gears to come to a gradual halt.