Winter driving checklist – Wicklow motorists advised: “reduce speed and drive to conditions, arrive alive”

Is your car ready for winter conditions? We’ve put together a list of advice for those taking to frozen roads this week. 

With snow dusting the Wicklow Mountains and more icy weather on the way, there’s still time to ensure you’re prepared for all weather.

Met Eireann has forecasted a cold week ahead with temperatures expected to drop to -3C on Wednesday night, adding that “sleet and snow will affect much of the southern half of the country in strong easterly winds”.

Before undertaking any trip in icy or stormy weather, An Garda Síochána urges all motorists to consider: “Is your journey absolutely necessary?”

Winter Driving Checklist

“Prevention is always better than cure,” says the government’s Office of Emergency Planning. They advise motorists to take time to prepare their vehicles before bad weather hits.

If you have not done so already, suggests the first step (time permitting) is to have your vehicle serviced for winter conditions.

1. Checking your car’s condition ahead of time

  • Wipers: Examine the blades for wear and replace if they smear rather than clean windscreens. (Aim to replace blades every 12 months)
  • Tyres: Pump tyres to manufacturer’s recommendation; tyres should have at least 3 millimetres of tread depth
  • Lights: Ensure all lights (including indicators and hazards) are working and clean
  • Fluids: Top up screen wash and anti-freeze. Check the oil level and watch for leakages underneath the car

2. Preparing your vehicle ahead of journeys:

  • Inspect your tyres once again, checking pressure and tread depth (1.6mm absolute minimum)
  • Pack the boot with a Hi-viz jacket, a shovel, boots, and extra clothing
  • Wipe all windows clear of snow using a scraper and de-icer. (Avoid hot water as this can crack glass)
  • Add anti-icing fluid to screen wash
  • Remove snow from the roof as it may fall and obscure the windscreen while braking
  • Check lights and indicators
  • Fully charge your phone – bring a power brick if possible
  • Extra weight in the boot may provide extra grip for rear wheel drive vehicles

3. While driving, consider the following:

  • Stick to main routes as these will be cleared first during severe weather
  • Allow extra distance while following cars as braking distance is greatly increased. Don’t piggy-back on the lights of vehicles as this may give a false sense of security
  • Be vigilant for pedestrians or cyclists
  • Avoid braking hard, sudden acceleration, or steering as these can cause a slide.
  • Be vigilant for black ice which can make tarmac appear polished and glossy.
  • Using a high gear reduces engine revs and prevents wheel spin
  • However, while driving downhill choose a low gear early to limit speed

4. What should you do if you get into a skid?

  • If braking, steering, or acceleration are the cause – reduce gently and smoothly.
  • “If your car has ABS (most modern cars have) it will NOT skid under braking. If ABS is activated, KEEP your foot on the brake and STEER around whatever caused you to brake.”
  • “If you car does not have ABS and starts to skid on the brakes, firstly take your foot off the brakes then re-apply the brakes gently – if the car continues to slide pump the brake pedal as fast as you can (Cadence Braking) and steer around whatever caused you to brake.”
  • While accelerating, if the car begins to turn and travel sideways, steer into the direction in which the rear wheels are sliding until the car is under control, then ease off the accelerator or brakes
  • Be aware that over correction may cause a slide in the opposite direction

More information about winter driving can be found at:

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