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Icy roads catching drivers out

Wednesday, July 7, 2021   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: safety, transport, traffic

Waimakariri District Council media release: 5th July 2021

Some drivers are not getting the message to reduce speed when temperatures are low and ice is likely to be present on the roads.

Police and FENZ have attended several crashes over the weekend where drivers have not been driving to the conditions resulting in crashes.

Sergeant Colin Stewart says drivers need to reduce their speed when temperatures are low. “Regardless of whether you think there is ice or not, the best way to reduce the risk of a crash is to slow down,” he says.

It’s clear that while some drivers are paying attention to the weather forecasts and taking extra care, others aren’t and it puts everyone at risk.

Road Safety Co-ordinator Kathy Graham says there is a misconception that gritting roads makes it safe to drive at your normal speed.  However grit only improves friction by about 15% so you only have around 40% of dry road skid resistance.

While contractors check roads very early in the morning they will also respond at other times where required. Ice can form very quickly at any time of the day however so when temperatures are low assume the road will be slippery and reduce your speed.  Black ice can’t be seen so you won’t know until you hit it.

“We all have a part to play in keeping ourselves and others safe on the roads. Those with young or new drivers in their family, please talk to them about driving to the conditions – they are more at risk when new to driving or inexperienced.”

Reducing speed when driving in icy conditions doesn’t mean you won’t slide off the road, but at a slower speed the impact will be less.

What you can do to be safe on the road in icy conditions

  • Drive slower than you normally would. It only takes a split second to lose control in wet or icy conditions.
  • Avoid sudden braking or turning movements that could cause you to skid.
  • Accelerate smoothly and brake gently.
  • Use your highest gear when travelling uphill and your lowest downhill.
  • For vehicles without anti-skid braking systems, to avoid skidding or sliding pump the brake pedal in short rapid bursts rather than pressing long and hard.
  • Drive at a safe travelling distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. In winter, especially in poor weather, double the two-second rule and leave a safe distance between you and the car you’re following.
  • When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped for increased safety.
  • Ensure your windscreen, windows and mirrors are clear of ice and moisture before driving.