Road Safety Update – Risk of Hazardous Road Conditions and Freezing Fog
16 January 2015: 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 of minus 1 to minus 6 or minus 7 Celsius, leading to a widespread severe frost, with a risk of icy stretches, this poses a major 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.
Ms. Moyagh Murdock, CEO, Road Safety Authority said, “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. Combined with icy road surfaces – it’s a driver’s worst nightmare.”
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.
- 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.
- 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 (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 other traffic.
- Remember to switch off your fog lights once the foggy conditions improve.
- 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. 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.
- 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 vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space.
- 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.
Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to;
- Avoid going out in fog unless it is a necessity. 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.
- While walking on footpaths and in public places, or entering and exiting your vehicle, 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.