On Icy Roads
Stopping Distance on Icy Roads is far higher than when driving in dry
Driving on icy roads or in the wet can be hazardous, particularly if
driving too fast. Not only can clear visibility be compromised, but stop-time
is reduced because reaction times are longer. Understanding about how stopping distance on icy
roads is affected means appropriate driving for these specific dangerous
driving conditions can be adopted.
Understanding about how stopping distance on icy roads is affected means
appropriate driving for these dangerous conditions.
There are various aspects to consider, such as reduced traction, black
ice, wet ice and the increased risk of skidding or hydroplaning.
Vehicles can skid when the surface is wet or icy. Stopping distances are double
on wet roads and on icy roads, stopping distances are even greater. This
is because traction is greatly reduced.
Traction is the friction between the tyres and the road. Without traction it is
difficult to steer or brake. Slippery, bendy and icy roads require
slower driving for this reason. If it is icy it is best to reduce speed to a
crawl and stop as soon as it is safe to do so, as the risk of losing control of
the vehicle is high.
However, it can be difficult to know if a road is slippery or icy. Be cautious
when driving over shady parts of the road. These areas remain icy and slippery
for longer as they don't have as much exposure to the sun. Once icy roads start
to melt, they will become wet and consequently more treacherous than completely
frozen ice. This is because wet ice is a lot more slippery and, as a result,
the stopping distance is greater. Reduce speed to allow for increased stopping
distance on icy roads.
Wet and icy roads and driving conditions increase the probability
of hydroplaning, where the wheels lose traction and in effect are travelling on
top of the water. When this happens, steering and breaking become difficult. In
this situation do not apply the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator and
engage the clutch.
Having healthy tread on your tyres and ensuring they are inflated to correct
manufacturer specified pressures reduces the risk of hydroplaning.
Black ice can be particularly difficult to spot as the road may simply look wet
rather than icy. Black ice gets its name form the fact that the road is visible
underneath the surface of a thin, transparent layer of ice that has formed. If
driving in sub-zero temperatures and the road appears wet, reduce speed and
take care as you could be driving on black ice.
A simple way to find out if the road may be icy is to open the car window and
feel the front of the wing mirror or its support. Ice forming on these would
indicate the likelihood that the road will be icing up too. If this is the
case, reduce speed to allow for the increase in stopping distance.
Take particular care when crossing bridges, as these ice up before normal roads.
This tends to be because they are more exposed. While the roads may not
be icy, the bridge you are travelling over could well be frozen.