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Road Safety Update – Continuing Hazardous Road Conditions and Freezing Fog

road safety 11.12.2022

11 December 2022: The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is warning road users of the dangers posed by freezing fog which has been forecast by Met Eireann in many parts of the country over the coming days. Combined with temperatures which are expected to drop below minus 5 degrees, leading to a widespread severe frost, with a risk of icy roads, this poses a safety risk for road users.

As visibility is reduced in such conditions a collision involving one vehicle can quickly involve many others, especially if driving too fast and too close to one another. The greatest risk is of a multiple-vehicle pile-up on roads with higher speeds such as motorways and dual carriageways.

Dense fog reduces visibility greatly and makes driving very dangerous. However freezing fog, when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, can make it difficult to keep the windscreen surface clear.

The RSA has 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.

    Fog / Freezing Fog

  • In patches of fog, switch on fog lights 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.
  • To prevent windscreen wipers from freezing and seizing up in freezing fog, add anti-freeze screen washer to the water tank. Check that the wipers for wear and tear and replace them if they are.
  • Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front. 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 other traffic.
  • Remember to switch off your fog lights once the foggy conditions improve.

    Ice / Black Ice

    Road users are being reminded of the dangers posed by ice and 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. It can occur especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
  • In icy conditions 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.
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space when overtaking them.

Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to;

  • Avoid going out in dense fog / freezing fog unless it is a necessity. If absolutely necessary 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.

See RSA Road Safety Alert for ICE, Hailstones, and Snow issued on 6 December 2022 for more information and advice on using the roads in the current weather.

Visit your local authority website to view the road gritting plan for each county and the roads being treated in your area.

For advice on severe weather driving tips and weather updates, please see severe weather advice on or check out the RSA Facebook and Twitter pages.

See advice on driving in our series of Severe Weather Warning videos created in collaboration with Teresa Mannion.

For more weather updates visit Met Eireann’s website here

Visit the Be Winter Ready website the Government of Ireland initiative to assist households in preparing for winter.