As the country enters an exceptionally cold spell this week, Brokers Ireland is advising motorists of a number of small practical steps to help get safely through the bad weather and avoid the trauma of an accident.
Cathie Shannon, Director of General Insurance Services at the organization, which represents 1,250 Broker firms, advised drivers to familiarize themselves with the detail of their car insurance policies and emergency numbers, in the event of a breakdown.
“It’s the first icy spell of the year and before it takes hold there is an opportunity for motorists in particular to put a few simple preventative measures in place to try and avoid having an accident,” she said.
“Stopping distance can be increased ten-fold during ice and snow,” she warned.
She said ensuring tyre pressure is at the correct levels, as recommended by manufacturers, is simple to do and can be very helpful in reducing the risk of an accident.
Cold weather can decrease tyre pressure. Front-wheel drive vehicles have greater grip, so they handle ice and snow better than rear-wheel drives. The latter are more prone to skidding.
“Carrying weight in your boot can help somewhat by putting additional weight on the back tyres,” she said.
Tyre depth should be about 3mm, she said. “Worn tyres are particularly hazardous in ice and snow.”
“If you drive an automatic car, check the detail in the manual to find the override function, manual gears being safer in adverse weather conditions.”
Ms Shannon advised consumers to plan journeys well and, where possible, use main routes. “Although it doesn’t look like the expected snow falls will be very heavy or prolonged nonetheless it might be safer to, as much as possible, stick to main rather than secondary routes.”
She also advised motorists to have fully charged phones, useful in calling for assistance, if needed.
Brokers Ireland also advised motorists:
· Not to use very hot or boiling water to clear windscreens, as it can crack the glass
· Check the car’s coolant or antifreeze levels
· Clean lights and make sure they are working
· Keep fuel topped up to cover long delays
· Carry a winter survival kit, including a high-vis jacket and reflective warning triangles
· Be ever more conscious of, and generous to, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.