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Irish drivers not confident on icy roads, research suggests

New research shows that seven in 10 motorists are least confident driving when there is ice on the road, with women less confident compared to men (77% vs 64%).

It found that 86 per cent of motorists take extra precautions during weather warnings; with the advice from Liberty Insurance, who commissioned the survey, aimed at those who are making essential journeys during Covid-19 restrictions.

Conducted among 1,000 adults by Core, the survey found that 30 per cent of Irish drivers do not know how to check the tread depth of their vehicle’s tyres. Compared to women, men are significantly more likely to report that they know how to check their tyre depth (79% vs 60%).

Low tyre tread depth is hazardous for drivers and other road users. Worn tyres are more likely to fail to grip icy or wet roads; they are also less efficient at braking suddenly and more prone to punctures.

Met Éireann has declared a status yellow weather warning for the country that will remain in place for the remainder of the week. It has warned of continued snow, ice and hail showers across the country this week. In advance of these conditions, preparing for a hazardous situation, such as a breakdown, is essential.

Just over four in five (81%) motorists have a spare tyre in their vehicle, but just one in four report having an automatic tyre inflator. Men are significantly more likely than women to carry an emergency breakdown kit (52% vs 42%), a car jack (77% vs 67%), and a set of jump leads (47% vs 31%) in their vehicle, according to the research.

Those living in rural areas are significantly more likely to carry a jack in their vehicle, compared to urban drivers (80% vs 68%).

The study adds that 14 per cent say they do not heed weather warnings, believing them to be “scaremongering”, with more than one in every three motorists (34%) believing such warnings are “over sensationalised” by media.

The majority of minor breakdowns on Irish roads can be prevented with regular servicing. Minor breakdowns include a flat tyre, minor mechanical, electrical or electronic breakdowns such as a run-down battery or a blown fuse.

From the research, it is clear that the majority of drivers understand the importance of consistent vehicle servicing, as just over eight in 10 (84%) have had their car serviced in the last 12 months. But, a notable 16 per cent of motorists have not had their vehicle serviced in the same period. Consistent vehicle servicing will reduce the risk of being involved in a breakdown or a hazardous situation on Irish roads.