Top tips not to slip: the ABCs of driving in snow and ice from Carzone

This week temperatures have plummeted across the country with ice and snow in many areas. Motorists are encouraged to drive carefully as these weather conditions can be dangerous.

Preparation, patience, and practicality are key when it comes to driving in winter road conditions. Carzone, Ireland’s ultimate motoring marketplace, has put together the ABC’s for motorists to stay safe and not slip while driving in the snow and ice.

Top tips not to slip: the ABCs of driving in snow and ice from Carzone

The ABCs of Driving in Snow and Ice:

  • Awareness – Ensure you are driving slowly, and you are aware of your surroundings during snowy conditions or when driving on icy roads. Manoeuvre gently, drive slowly and allow extra time for stopping distances. Avoid turning the steering wheel too much and braking or accelerating harshly. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spinning and use a lower gear when travelling downhill.

Before you even hit the road, be aware of the latest weather reports. Listen to local weather and traffic reports from a reliable and up to date sources. Check if there are closures or diversions to your route and really consider if driving is a safe option. Follow the guidelines given by authorities.

  • Beware of black ice – Black ice is one of winter’s worst hazards, it is translucent making it difficult to see. It’s best identified as a polished or glossy effect on a road occurring mostly in sheltered or shaded areas on the road, under trees and next to high walls. The general rule is to do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice. Do not hit the brakes and try to keep the steering wheel straight. If you feel the back end of your car sliding left or right, then make a very gentle turn of the steering wheel in the same direction.
  • Be ready to brake – Before you set off in winter weather check if your car has Anti- Lock Brake System. If you get into a skid the ABS begins cycling causing you to feel pulses in the pedal. Using anti-lock brakes is easy, just remember, Step, Stay and Steer. Step on the pedal, stay on the pedal and steer around the obstacle. Again, a little steering goes a long way so be gentle while manoeuvring.

If your car doesn’t have ABS, you will need to apply cadence braking. This involves pushing the brake pedal until the wheels stop rolling, then immediately releasing the brake enough to allow the wheels to begin turning again. Repeat these actions rapidly to give your tyres maximum grip regardless of whether the surface is snow or ice.

  • Check your tyres – Your tyres are your only point of contact with the road so it’s crucial to make sure they are winter ready. Check both your tyres and your spare tyre and replace any with a tread depth below 3mm. Check the tyre pressure to ensure that that the tyres are inflated properly. Grip is one of the most important aspects of winter driving – it’s important to be aware that lack of grip can occur on treated roads.
  • Clear your windows and mirrors- Get into a routine each morning giving yourself extra time to de-ice and clear your windows and mirrors. Use a scraper and de-icer solution to clear windows. Using hot water to do this could cause a crack in the glass. Check that your windshield wiper blades are in good working condition and make sure that the washer system works and is stocked with de-icer fluid. Snowy conditions will impair your visibility, have sunglasses on hand for glare and reduce your speed.
  • Check and use your lights – Ensure your headlights and taillights are in working order and replace any damaged bulbs. Clear the lights of snow and use dipped headlights while driving so others will see you on the road.
  • Check if your car has extra features that could help- Consult your car’s owner manual to find out if it has any safety assist systems such as Electronic Stability Control or the Anti-Lock Braking System mentioned above. Know how to use these systems but do not overestimate their abilities.

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