How to drive safely in the snow

The cold snap came back. It left its mark on the Leinster counties already and now it’s making its way through the rest of the country. While the cold snap is bringing some welcome excitement to a very mundane time, it’s also bringing danger to our roads. When rain falls in Ireland, it falls hard and unfortunately when it snows or freezes over, it creates the optimum conditions for a collision. There is no worse feeling than feeling unsafe on the road and while snow and ice bring their own challenges, there are steps you can take to prepare.

Here’s 6 great tips to help you drive safely in the snow:

1.Think tyres!

Tyres are undoubtedly the part of your car that take the most beating on the road. If you want to have a safer and more pleasant driving experience then it’s crucial that you look after your tyres. It’s a good idea to remember that your tyres are your only contact with the road surface so hence, it’s your tyres that have to operate on the ice.

While it can be hard to maintain grip during icy conditions, it is even harder if your tyres have been neglected. Always ensure you have a spare tyre in your car should you experience a flat during icy conditions. Check your tyre thread depth before you begin an excursion in the snow, if the depth falls below 3mm, then you should replace your tyres before driving. An easy way to check your tyre thread depth at home is to get a €1 coin and insert it into the grooves of your tyre. If the gold rim is showing on the coin then your thread depth is likely to be below 3mm. 

It’s important to note that you should always be checking your tyre pressure also, under inflated tyres can reap havoc on the road and increase the likelihood of a collision. Go to your local mechanic, check your pressure and pump them up if necessary.

2.Increase visibility.

One of the greatest catalysts to a collision in icy conditions is a lack of visibility. If you can’t see while you’re driving, then the chances of you having a crash are raised. Before you set out on a journey in the snow, take the time to check that your windows and mirrors are clear. Wash your windscreen down with lukewarm water. It’s noteworthy that you should never use boiling water on your windscreen as this can cause cracks. Use a demister to defog the inside of your windows. Check your windshield washer fluid, if it doesn’t contain anti-icing fluid then this should be rectified before you set out.

Remember that if you’re driving in cold conditions during the day, it’s very important to bring sunglasses. Ice and sun can cause dazzlement and this can make navigating the road tricky, always pack your sunnies in case you need them.

3.Be vigilant.

You need to be cautious while prepping your car for the road during bad weather however you also need to be cautious while driving. When you’re driving on ice it’s vital that you manoeuvre very slowly. You should drive at a reduced speed and leave an increased distance between you and the car ahead. Try to avoid harsh steering, acceleration and harsh braking.  Sudden and harsh movements can reduce the grip between the tyre and the road, especially when conditions are slippy. This could cause you to skid into oncoming traffic or to skid into an obstruction.

If you do find yourself skidding while driving on ice, avoid braking at all costs. Gently steer the car in the same direction it is moving towards, naturally once that direction isn’t into an oncoming car. Don’t pull your steering wheel in the completely opposite direction however as this will increase the skid and reduce your grip on the road.

4.Keep an eye on black ice.

Black ice deserves its own point because it’s a little bit trickier than regular ice/snow. Snow or ice on the roads are often visible to the naked eye provided you’ve taken the recommended measures to clean your windscreen and mirrors. Black ice however while equally as dangerous is harder to spot. If the road ahead looks glossy or even polished then black ice might be present. Sometimes black ice can even appear as puddle on the road. The best way to avoid it, is to drive slowly in cold conditions especially after a night where frost was present. Steer clear of sheltered areas that might be prone to pockets of black ice, be cautious while driving and always wear your seatbelt!

5.Get informed.

Listen to the weather reports the evening before you intend to undertake a long journey. The evening weather forecast will give you a general idea as to whether it is going to freeze or not. Tune into the radio on the morning of your journey or check the internet for updates. By taking the extra step to check road updates, you’ll know what roads are safe to drive on and what roads aren’t.

Try to drive on main roads where possible. Main roads are likely to have frequent travellers passing on them and are thus, more likely to be gritted. Gritted roads are naturally safer for road users. Avoid driving on roads that might not receive a lot of sunlight or are going to be covered in snow from lack of use.

Bonus tip:

The best thing to do in extremely bad weather is to stay off the road. Take heed of warnings not to go out. This leaves the emergency services free to deal with real emergencies instead of rounding up stranded drivers.

At we believe in the safety of Irish drivers. If you are looking for great car insurance cover at a great price, then why not reach out to our expert brokers?

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