Driving in Ice Conditions

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Correct Driving on Ice

In winter check the local weather forecast for warnings of icy or snowy weather. DO NOT drive in these conditions unless your journey is essential. Some of us maybe great drivers i but you cannot prevent others from crashing into you.

If your journey is essential, take great care and allow more time for your journey. Take an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, warm clothing and boots, first aid kit, Hi Vis jacket, jump leads and a shovel, together with a warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or your vehicle breaks down.

Watch out for black ice and freezing fog, especially in sheltered/shaded areas where micro climates can exist that contrast sharply with general conditions. These can be found on roads under trees, adjacent to high walls or hills, in valleys or dips and close to rivers and lakes.

One of the features of travelling on Black Ice is a sudden reduction in tyre noise. You won’t notice this if the radio is too loud.

Vehicle Control

Ice driving

The Only way a driver can drive correctly on ice or snow is with correct winter or studded tyres. No driver in the world can control a vehicle on black solid ice without the correct equipment. If a car with summer tyres was dropped on a 20% gradient it would simply start to slide out of control and no amount of steering or braking would help.

In this video you'll see whats its like for a driver to meet solid black ice!

Laws for car tyres Dublin Ireland


Changing gears correctly

Select a low gear (1-2) when travelling downhill, especially if driving through bends. Its very important not to change gears unnecessarily! Harsh braking and changing down a gear incorrectly on black ice can cause the drive wheels to lock up and send you spinning.

Correct Way

When approuching a downhills or bends slow down gradually well in advance. To do this correctly let off the gas easy using the engine brake, then feather the foot brake to match the speed of the selected i.e. 1st gear (10 km/h), change gear well before the bend or hill (Not on the hill).

Once you are in a gear..stay in that gear..You want the engine to control your speed on the downhill by staying in one gear so you dont need to use to brake to much.


Avoid unessesary gear changing on downhills. ie 4th, 3rd, 2nd etc.

If you try to change down gears to slow you down going downhill you increase the chance of coasting (freewheeling) this increases the chance of locking up the wheels from engine compression when realeasing the clutch or harsh braking cause by freewheeling. Its very important to ease off the clutch much slower than normal to avoid the wheel locking on the ice.


Automatic cars

If driving an automatic, familiarise yourself with the Manual Override function and snow Function. This will allow you to manually select an appropriate gear for before up hill and downhills so the engine can help regulate your speed and avoid braking harsh.

Manoeuvre gently, avoid course steering, harsh braking and acceleration and always slow down in advance.


What to do if i start skidding?

Identify the cause – It is either, too much Braking, too much Steering, too much Acceleration or a combination of one or all of these.

Remove the cause – GENTLY and SMOOTHLY

If your car has ABS it still can skid under harsh braking in ice. If ABS is activated and you feel your car slide, let your foot off the brake and pump the brake. This is called Cadence braking or stutter braking is an advanced driving technique that involves pumping the brake pedal and is used to allow a car to both steer and brake on a slippery surface and STEER around that what caused you to brake.

DO NOT fix your sight on an impending collision; you will surely hit it if you do. LOOK FOR AN ESCAPE ROUTE. Constantly looking for escape routes in all driving conditions is an essential component of defensive driving and when practised will become instinctive.

If your vehicle skids and slews sideways -Turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid and ease off the accelerator at the same time. So if the back of your vehicle is slewing to the left, steer left to bring it in line again.

Avoid over correction with too much steering or you will create a swing in the opposite direction.

Be ready for a secondary skid and repeat corrective actions as before.

Driving in slippery conditions simply requires the driver to drive slower and to react much sooner to hazzards.