The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising drivers to be aware of the dangers posed by hailstones. The advice comes as Met Eireann has forecast wintery showers of hail are expected this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Hail is a common but unpredictable occurrence in Ireland and can lead to slippery and dangerous driving conditions. This is especially true on higher speed roads like dual carriageways or motorways.
The difficulty with hail showers is their unpredictability and localised nature. As a hail shower tracks across the country it deposits a narrow band of ball bearing sized hailstones on the ground. Where the track of a shower crosses a road, drivers may suddenly pass from perfectly good road conditions onto a carpet of hailstones. This has the potential to catch drivers out if they do not immediately react to the hazardous driving conditions.
The RSA has the following practical advice for drivers:
- Drivers need to be on guard to the potential danger posed by hailstones.
- If you encounter hailstones reduce your speed, without breaking if possible. Warn other drivers by using your hazard warning lights.
- Driving slowly in a high gear will help your tyres maintain grip even as your tyres move over the compacted pellets of ice.
- Accelerate and brake very gently and drive slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely. Avoid sudden steering movements or hard braking.
- Keep an eye out for road markings that may become obscured and leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front.
Drivers are also advised to make sure their tyres are fit for purpose i.e., that they are not below the legal minimum tread depth (1.6mm) and that they are inflated to the correct pressure, so they can cope better with such challenging driving conditions.
Checking forecasts and listening to travel bulletins before and during your journey will alert you of any possible hail showers.
For more information see the public information video on driving in hailstones, developed by the RSA featuring RTE’s Teresa Mannion.