2012 News

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07 December 2012

Road Safety Alert - Icy Conditions, Freezing Fog & Risk of Snow

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), today December 7th 2012 is alerting road users of very cold weather for the coming week with wide spread frost and ice, and patches of freezing fog may develop further inland also. Later in the week, temperatures are forecast to fall to as low as -5 degrees at night in areas.

The early part of next week will be cold but mainly dry and bright, though with extensive night frosts occurring in most places. The RSA urge road users to slow down and take extra care as fog and frost may not clear some areas during daylight hours and motorists should be particularly aware of the risk of black ice on the roads. Freezing fog will be a problem at night also. Visibility is greatly reduced in such conditions. A collision involving one vehicle can quickly involve many others, especially if driving too fast and too close to the vehicle in front. The greatest risk is of a multiple-vehicle pile-up on roads with higher speeds such as motorways and dual carriageways.

During the middle and later part of next week, northeast to north breezes will freshen. This means northern and eastern counties will come under threat of snow showers which may lead to accumulations, even at lower levels. However, the rest of the country will stay mainly dry with clear spells.

The RSA is asking road users to take extra care in such adverse weather conditions and have issued the following advice:

  • Check local and National weather forecasts before setting out on a journey. Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer.  Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass.
  • Use your dipped headlights so that others will see you. Make sure your headlights and taillights are all in working order, replace broken bulbs.
  • Watch out for "black ice." If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, "black ice” one of winter's worst hazards: Black Ice is difficult to see! It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
  • Check tyres, including spare wheel, replace them if the tread depth falls below 3mm and make sure they are inflated to the correct tyre pressure. Lack of grip can occur even on treated roads so drive slowly in the highest gear possible, manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking.
  • If driving in snow, gently does it. Manoeuvre gently, slow down and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Too much steering is bad and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends. Falling snow, fog, rain, or hail will reduces visibility. Do not hang on to the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you as it can give a false sense of security. When you slow down, use your brakes so that the brake lights warn drivers behind you.
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space.
  • In patches of fog, switch on fog lamps where visibility is reduced. As you enter fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Use your foot brake lightly so that your lights warn following drivers.
  • Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front (Target Fixing). This can give a false sense of security and you will be too close to be able to brake safely. In heavy fog, turn off your radio and let down your driver’s window a fraction, so as you can hear the presence of other traffic.
  • Remember to switch off your fog lights once the foggy conditions improve.


Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to;

  • Be seen. Wear bright clothing with reflective armbands or a reflective belt. 
  • Take extra care when near traffic or crossing the road in extremely windy conditions as sudden gusts can blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
  • While walking on footpaths and in public places, or entering and exiting your car or truck, DO NOT underestimate the danger of ice.
  • Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the door step, on the path or while getting out of the car. It is very possible that a thin sheet of transparent ice or “Black Ice” is covering your pathway putting you at risk. When you approach a footpath or roadway that appears to be covered with ice, always use extreme caution. 
  • If walking or cycling in fog, make sure you are clearly visible by carrying a torch and wearing reflective clothing. Stay well in off the road where there is no footpath when vehicles are approaching.

Visit the RSA’s website for more information on Severe Weather Advice for road users.

For further information please contact
RSA Communications Department – 096 25008


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