Driving on icy roads can be hazardous, particularly if driving too fast. Not only can clear visibility be compromised, but stop-time is reduced due to reaction times being longer. Understanding about how stopping distance on icy roads is affected means appropriate driving for these potentially dangerous driving conditions.

There are various aspects to consider, such as reduced traction, black ice, wet ice and the increased risk of skidding or hydroplaning.

Stopping distances may be doubled on wet roads, on icy roads stopping distances are even greater!

Traction is the friction between the tyres and the road. With reduced 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. 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 may be 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.

Wet and icy road conditions increase the probability of hydroplaning (the wheels lose traction and in effect you 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 if a manual gearbox).

Winter car maintenance of your tyres and ensuring they are inflated to correct manufacturer specified pressures reduces the risk of hydroplaning.

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. Ice forming in this region would indicate the likelihood that the road will be icing up.

Take particular care when crossing bridges, as these may 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!