Winter Preparations High on the Agenda for Irish Drivers

by Morgan Flanagan Creagh | 3 min read    January 6th, 2020

New research commissioned by Allianz insurance indicates that the Irish public are on top of winter car preparations this year. The study was carried out by Coyne Research on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged over 18-years in November 2019.

Early Preparation

The majority of people were found to be taking time to prepare their car for winter. Those aged over 55-years were most likely to be winter ready, with 70% of them making sure their vehicle is ready for the cold season. On the other hand, 1 in 5 people aged between 18-24-years were not preparing their vehicle for bad weather.

In their winter preparations, 80% of Irish motorists claimed to check their tyres before winter, 69% check their liquids, 65% check their lights, and 57% check their brakes. Over half of people were aware the average braking distance on ice is 10x more than dry conditions. Only a quarter of those aged 18-24 were aware of the greater braking distance, while 62% of people over 55-years knew of this information.

While it is important to have a properly maintained braking system at all times, it is especially crucial during the winter.

What to Keep in Your Car Over Winter

While more than half of Irish drivers inspect their car before every journey during the winter months, only 36% prepare a winter pack for their vehicle. Those aged 55+ are the least likely to have a winter pack, while the 18-24-year-old cohort are the most likely at 50%. When asked “what items they would include in a winter pack” the survey found that de-icer and a torch were the most common items, followed closely by jump leads and an emergency warning triangle. A snow shovel, snow chains and snacks were the least likely to be included in the winter pack.

A winter pack can come in handy if you become stuck in winter weather. Consider putting together the following in a pack to keep in your boot:

  • Ice scraper
  • Microfibre Cloth
  • Screen wash
  • Engine oil
  • Spare tire or emergency tire inflator
  • Jump leads
  • Antifreeze
  • A torch
  • Portable phone charger (pre-charged) 
  • Small spade    
  • Thick blanket
  • Swiss Army Knife / Leatherman or mini tool kit

Caught Unprepared

A quarter of people surveyed said that they had been caught in a situation where their car was not adequately prepared. Mirroring their preparation for winter conditions, this was highest between those aged 18-24-years and least likely for those over the age of 55. Surprisingly, people in Connaught and Ulster were the least likely to be caught out in poor winter conditions with those in Dublin most likely at 31%.

Winter tyres are rarely deemed necessary in Ireland and unsurprisingly most said they didn’t use them, however, 22% of 18-24-years-olds said that they did use winter tyres during the cold season.  People aged over 55-years, who were the most likely to prepare for winter and least likely to get caught out by it, had the lowest use of winter tyres at just 9%.


Oversteer and Understeer in Winter Weather

Oversteer is when the back of a car slides out in poor weather conditions, which is most likely to occur in rear wheel drive vehicles.

For example, you turn the wheel to the right and the back of the car loses traction, so it swings out to the left. To counteract this, turn the wheel in the direction of the slide, in this case to the left, in order to control the slide and straighten the car.

Of those surveyed, men, those aged 45-54, and those from Munster or Dublin were the most likely to know how to react when a car is oversteering. Conversely, women, those aged 18-34-years, and those from the Connacht/Ulster area were the least likely to know how to deal with oversteer.

Understeer is when a driver turns the steering wheel and the car continues to slide forwards, which is most likely to occur in a front wheel drive vehicle.

For example, you are driving towards a bend in the road and you turn the wheel to the left, but the car keeps skidding forwards. When this happens, avoid the urge to further turn the wheel in the direction you want to go or slam on the brakes. Instead, return the steering wheel to straight, or if you are in a corner, slightly turn into the direction you are skidding in order to align the wheels and create grip. Lift your foot off the accelerator and apply the brake lightly.

According to the survey, men and those living in Dublin were the most likely to know how to react to understeer, while females, those aged over 55-years and from Connaught or Ulster, were the least likely to know how to react.

It’s important to be mindful of different conditions when driving this winter. Pay attention to weather warnings and avoid driving in dangerous conditions. Remembering to both prepare and maintain your vehicle to avoid otherwise preventable situations.

Morgan Flanagan Creagh
Motoring journalist at the Medical Independent. Opinion haver and tech writer for