Safety advice for motorists
Before you drive
Before you drive your car, there are certain documents that you must have in place. You should also check that the car is safe to drive (roadworthy). Keep up to date with the general maintenance of your car. When driving a car, be aware of the way you drive, the dangers on the road and your obligations as a road user.
Before you drive you must ensure the following:
- The car is insured and taxed.
- The car has passed its NCT test.
- All discs are displayed on the windscreen.
- You must also hold a valid driving licence.
Check all lights and indicators and ensure your windscreen is clean and free from anything that might obstruct your vision. Keep your windscreen washer fluid topped up. Check your horn is working. Check that the brakes are working. You need to check regularly the brake and engine oil levels, the tyre pressure and the condition of your tyres. Getting your car serviced when it’s due is always a good idea. Check your car’s handbook for the next service date.
You need to drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road when driving.
When driving you should:
- Drive at a speed appropriate to the road and weather conditions, the volume of traffic and the likelihood of hazards. Speed limits are the maximum speed you can drive on a stretch of road in good conditions.
- Never drink or take drugs and drive. Alcohol and drugs affect your judgement, vision, coordination, and reaction time.
- Wear your seatbelt. By law, every passenger in the car must also wear a seatbelt.
- Take a break from driving if you feel tired – a nap of 15 to 20 minutes can help.
- Never use a hand-held mobile phone. Any distraction when driving can be dangerous.
- Use your dipped headlights to see and be seen if visibility is poor.
- Only use fog lights when there is fog or falling snow. Switch them off when conditions improve.
Taking some basic precautions can help you avoid becoming a victim of crime while driving.
- Always lock your doors and keep your windows closed.
- Make sure your handbag and any valuables are kept out of sight.
- Carry all luggage or shopping in the boot and leave the back seat empty.
- Never leave jackets or coats hanging in the back seat as these can be stolen while your car is stopped in traffic.
- Use your horn if someone approaches your windows or a car seems to be trying to make you stop.
- Know your route in advance. You should carry a map or use a GPS and avoid having to ask for directions. On longer journeys, tell someone your route and when you expect to reach your destination.
- If you think you are being followed, drive into the car park of the nearest Garda station, or if that isn’t possible, drive to a busy public place, for example, a garage forecourt.
- Never give lifts to strangers.
Safety while parking
You should choose a well-lit spot to park in. If you are parking in daylight but returning much later, you should consider what the space will look like in darkness. When returning to your car, you should have your keys in your hand to avoid searching through a bag or coat.
You can find out more in our pages on safety advice for motorcyclists, seat belts and the law and the national speed limits in Ireland. You can also find road safety information for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists on the website of An Garda Síochána. The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is another resource.