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Driving in icy conditions

During July there were four similar driving incidents involving frosty conditions or black ice. One involved a member of the public losing control of their vehicle and crashing into our Dunedin branch office. Fortunately, there were no employees present at the time! Two of the incidents fall into the high potential incident category as they involve crews of workers and/or multiple vehicles.

In one of those incidents, three vehicles following each other through the Rotoma hills hit black ice and lost control. It is not hard to see the potential for serious harm!

With NIWA advising a few more frosty periods this winter – drivers need to be alert to (black-ice) conditions and take extreme care!

So… Here’s a few tips!

  • Always pre-check your vehicle for the correct tread depth and tyre pressure.

  • Properly de-ice your vehicle before setting off – to ensure all-round visibility!

  • Leave extra distance/space between you and other road users; however, keep an eye on vehicles ahead that may suddenly swerve for no apparent reason.

  • Avoid over-steering and heavy braking – drive slower in a lower gear.

  • Black ice usually forms without creating bubbles, ‘blending’ with the underlying road.

  • Ice forms in sheltered areas e.g. under trees and readily on bridges – due to the cool air beneath and on top of the bridge.

  • The good news is that ice sheets (patches) average less than 6 metres in length. If you skid or lose traction, stay calm – do not brake – and only gently steer the vehicle.

  • If you start going off the road, try to steer the vehicle to the safest place. Following a crash, evaluate quickly whether it is safer to stay in your car or to get out of it.

 View this article in Safety Bulletin 94