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Do’s and don’ts for driving in cold weather

Brrrr! The weather has definitely turned and with the temperature dropping it’s leading to the inevitable frosty morning start. Driving in the cold weather can be a real pain, not to mention dangerous, so here are a few handy reminders in the form of do’s and don’ts for driving in cold weather.

Luckily in Ireland we aren’t exposed to the worst of the cold weather (remember this last year in New York?!) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared when it comes to driving in wintry weather. With that in mind, here are a few things you should do…

DO prepare – make sure you have thoroughly checked your lights, brakes, tyres and wiper blades. If you get caught in the snow, you need to ensure that you can increase your chances of visibility and that your tyres are able to stop suddenly if you need to. You should always try to drive with at least half a tank of fuel, and it doesn’t hurt either to have a blanket and a bar of chocolate in the boot in case you do get stuck and have to wait a while until rescue arrives.

DO think about winter tyres – These aren’t mandatory in Ireland, although they are in some parts of Europe with more extreme weather. These tyres are specially made to cope with wet and icy road conditions, with deeper grooves and softer rubber for better grip, but make sure to remove them in the better weather.

DO go slow – yes, we’ve all heard someone bemoaning the fact that ‘some people just can’t drive in the snow’ and if you’re referring to their lack of speed, then actually, they do know what they’re doing. When driving in cold weather it can take you up to ten times longer to stop your car in icy conditions than on a dry day, and if you are unfortunate enough to hit a patch of ice, take your foot off the accelerator but don’t pump the brake and try and steer in the direction of the skid to control it.

In these conditions, there are just as many don’ts as there are do’s. In winter weather with poor driving conditions don’t…

DON’T be impatient – Wait for your windscreen to clear before you drive off, or you could cause a serious accident, and take the time to clean your wing mirrors and lights and brush any snow off your car. If it takes you a little longer in the morning, so be it!

DON’T speed – you should never do this anyway, but when you are driving in cold weather it can be nearly impossible to stop on time if your speed gets up. Try and keep the speed even, and don’t rely on your brakes for stopping you in time, as I the cold weather, they aren’t as effective!

DON’T use warm water on your windscreen – this will cause it to crack and you’ll end up having to replace it. If you can’t park your car overnight in a garage, try using a windscreen cover to protect it from the worst of the frost. Use de-icer and wait for it to defrost using your car ventilation.