riving in the winter time requires extra care and consideration, both for your own vehicle and for other road users. Quite often the dangers are increased due to wet or cold weather reducing grip or visibility on the road. Here are some useful tips to help you stay safe on the roads this winter.
• LIGHTS: You should drive with your dipped headlights on all day. The dipped headlights are the second level of lighting, the side lights the first. This will highlight your presence to other road users on the road so they will see you a couple of second’s earlier, thus increasing safety. Between 1980 – 1990 Norway and Denmark enjoyed a reduction of 10% and 6% respectively, in relation to Multi Vehicle accidents, when drivers used dipped headlights (source www.rsa.ie.) Fog lights should only be used in dense fog and falling snow where visibility is less than 100 metres. Always ensure you switch off fog lights when finished with then as they can dazzle other road users. • TYRES: Your tyres are the only part of the car that touches the road and as a result, you need to pay them special attention. As a driver you should check the depth and pressure regularly. The minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and this can be checked with a gauge or paper indicator. You should measure between the grooves on the central three quarters of the tyre and replace the tyre if it’s worn. Driving on badly worn or bald tyres can be dangerous and illegal. The pressure of your tyre is best checked at a reliable Tyre Garage, such as Advance Pitstop or Fastfit Tyres, who will usually carry out a free initial check. You can also consult your driver handbook. Driving on underinflated tyres can increase fuel consumption and driving on over inflated rubber can wear them down quicker. • WET WEATHER: Driving in the rain will reduce your stopping distance so extra care is required. Don’t drive through a large puddle if you are unsure, as you may lose your grip on the road. If you must negotiate a large puddle then do so by driving very slowly and close to the centre of the road, if there’s no oncoming traffic, as this is usually more elevated than the edge. Driving too fast through floods could allow water to enter the engine and cause serious damage. When following traffic in rain or when the surface is wet, you should double the two second rule and stay four seconds behind the vehicle in front. • SNOW AND ICE: While snow is pretty rare on this green isle, December 2010 showed us it’s certainly not inconceivable. To put it simply, you shouldn’t bother driving in snow unless it’s an emergency!... Dane Tyghe
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