Superintendent Pat Lehane, in charge of the traffic corps in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, made the comments in the wake of pile-ups on Monday and Tuesday on national primary routes in Cork.
He advised road users facing inclement weather to decrease speed, maintain a good distance from vehicles ahead, and, when and where safe, to pull off the road.
In what were sudden hailstorms lasting only a matter of minutes, two major incidents occurred on the N8, the main Cork-Dublin road, and the N25, the main Cork-Waterford route.
The first incident occurred during a hailstorm on Monday evening between Watergrasshill and Rathcormac, near the toll facility. A total of eight vehicles collided or crashed on an icy surface while others skidded near the toll plaza. No serious injuries were reported.
However, on Tuesday up to 14 vehicles were involved in a pile-up on the westbound lane of the Cork-Midleton road, 600m on the city side of the Cobh junction.
A series of accidents occurred during what was another heavy shower of sleet and hail which made driving conditions treacherous.
A number of injuries were reported, although, fortunately, again none of them were said to be life-threatening.
The road had to be closed for a number of hours as the wreckage was cleared.
Supt Lehane said motorists must slow down during inclement weather or risk accidents.
“Our advice to people is quite simple: drive at the speed appropriate to the prevailing weather conditions,” he said, adding that, during bad hailstorms, visibility would be seriously reduced and cause a blanket of ice on the road, which would lead to skidding. “We would always urge people to slow down during such conditions. It might even be best to pull off the road altogether as the hailstorms normally blow over after five to 10 minutes. That would be the safer option,” said Supt Lehane.
He added that motorists should also increase the distance between the car in front of them during such weather events as it takes longer to brake.
“The same is also true when it rains after a long, dry spell because the road becomes quite greasy,” said Supt Lehane.