Warning over Derry youths firing snowballs at cars

The scene on Northland Road on Tuesday as road conditions worsened after heavy snowfall. DER0215MC011
The scene on Northland Road on Tuesday as road conditions worsened after heavy snowfall. DER0215MC011

Police in Derry have issued a warning after receiving a number of reports of youths throwing snowballs at passing cars across the city over the past 36 hours.

A PSNI spokesman said reports about the potentially deadly practice have come in from different locations in the city.

The Derry Journal has received reports that gangs of youths, some with their faces covered by scarves, were lying in wait along various parts of the Madamsbank Road area and then pelting passing cars with a barrage of snowballs.

There have also been reports of similar anti-social behaviour in Carnhill and other areas overnight.

Some motorists took to social media sites to vent their anger about being targeted while trying to negotiate treacherous road conditions.

PSNI Inspector Audrey Irvine said: “While throwing snowballs may seem like a bit of a laugh, it can be an extremely dangerous thing to do, particularly if they are thrown at vehicles.

“Quite apart from the damage that could be caused to vehicles, there is a danger that a driver or passengers could be injured.

“There is also the potential that a snowball striking a car, bus or lorry could cause the driver to lose control and collide with other vehicles.

“We would urge parents to help prevent these sorts of incidents by knowing where their children are and warning them of the possible consequences of such behaviour.”

Police have also warned motorist across the north west to drive with care in the current wintery conditions.

Police have advised drivers of the following when driving in wintery conditions:

• Slow down and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you

• Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock, ease off the brakes

• Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists and always clear all ice and snow off the car windows before setting out

• Drive slowly on snow in the highest gear possible.

• Never overtake snowploughs or gritting lorries. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind

• Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Police would also advise for anyone unlucky enough to get stuck in snow:

• Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

• Use a light touch on the accelerator to ease your car out.

• Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.

• Pour sand, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels – or even your foot mats - to help get traction.

• If you must leave your car, arrange to have it recovered as soon as possible. If you think it is in a place that may pose a danger to other road users, call the police to let them know.