How Do You Keep In Control On Black Ice?

The biggest fear for UK motorists during the cold winter months and heavy snowfall is the possibility of driving over black ice. The dangers of losing control over a surface with no grip are very serious. However, there are methods to help keep you on the road and prevent road traffic accidents during the colder months.

 

What Is Black Ice?

Whether rain falls as sleet or freezing rain, depends heavily on the temperature of the air just above ground level. If the temperature is already around freezing or just above, there is no heat in the air to stop the rain from freezing while travelling to the ground. This type of rainfall becomes hailstone and while hail can stick and form ice on the road, it often retains its colour and becomes visible ice, allowing road users to be aware while driving over it.

 

Source

What becomes black ice is rainfall that passes through a layer of warm air on its way to the ground. Because of the warm air keeping it from freezing, it remains a liquid before hitting the ground and freezes upon impact. As the rain is still a liquid it will disperse over a larger surface area while freezing. This large area of freezing usually remains clear, containing no air bubbles, blending into the road surface, giving very little sign, other than a slight sheen, that the road has an extra layer sitting on top. The reason for it being labelled “black ice” is usually down to the fact it camouflages itself on the road surface by remaining clear.

What’s The Danger?

Sliding on ice of any kind is a potential danger to all road users and their surroundings. The added danger of not knowing whether or not the road surface is driveable can be the cause of many multi car pile ups countrywide, causing road closures and slow moving traffic.

Popular advice when driving on ice is to drive slowly and avoid losing grip. The way in which black ice freezes as a flat sheet over the road has the potential to turn tarmac into a sheet, as though the driver has their vehicle on glass. Even winter tyres can struggle to gain grip on these kinds of surfaces and because of this we would heavily advise to think about the necessity of a journey before setting out.

 

(Top tips for driving safely on ice)

Driving Safely With Black Ice

Black ice can’t always be accounted for on your journey. It’s the very essence of it, it is invisible. Local weather reports may give you an indication of ice on the roads; you’ll also be hoping that your local council has taken action and gritted the vast majority of roads on freezing nights, leaving only smaller side streets. As much as this usually resolves 99% of problems driving on ice, there is always the chance that part of your route has been missed. When ice has set in overnight, always assume you will encounter some. It’s much easier to be safe when it comes to road safety in the winter.

If you fall foul of black ice on the road, the chances are you may experience unwanted loss of traction and potentially spin out of control in the worst case. There are, however, a few safe driving tips to employ, should you find yourself on ice and needing to stay calm and in control at the wheel.

Time is definitely NOT of the essence

At any other time of year we can do our best to make meeting times and get to our destinations in good time. Icy weather is definitely a period in which driving slowly, despite the risks of running late, must be the priority. Other road users will be aware of ice on the road and are likely to keep a safe distance, also watching their speed. The last thing other drivers want is to skid and head into the back of your vehicle. Do not be afraid to take it steady and travel at 10mph if necessary or even less should the road surface prove particularly tricky ahead.

Reduce speed before slopes

When you come to the precipice of a down slope, this is a critical moment for keeping control downhill. Going too fast when hitting ice while travelling downhill could easily result in sliding and gaining too much speed to regain control before the bottom. With black ice being very difficult to spot it’s usually best not to drive at all. If there is no other choice, going slow, steady and keeping a level head (unlike the video below) is your highest chance of keeping in control.

(Abandoning your car is not the right response to slipping on ice)

 

Don’t allow speed to build

Consistent speed can help avoid unwanted slipping and grip issues on any area of road. The power being output into the wheels can keep a car steady, whereas accelerating on ice of any kind can generate wheel spin, car spins and more of an increase in speed over a slippery surface than you would want, which will affect overall control. Keeping a consistent speed on a down slope may be difficult at times, but a gentle foot on the brakes can help avoid skidding and spinning out.

Bravery when sliding

Should you feel your car begin to slide and turn away from your path, you may need to take the brave step of releasing the brake pedal and regaining control going forward. Locking out the front wheels can cause the car to continue going straight, which, if already misaligned, could cause you to veer off the road. Likewise, locking out the back wheels with the handbrake can cause the car to spin out and be a hazard to road users behind it.

Black ice can cause many serious injury problems and road traffic accidents during winter

 

Be alert, be aware, and be safe

When it comes to driving on an icy road, whether visible or black ice, we would recommend (along with other experts) that unless it’s unavoidable, don’t take the risk. It never requires a large catalyst to result in a car losing control on the road, no-matter how good the driver is behind the wheel. Treacherous roads are an understandable downfall to our country’s climate and family, managers and friends will all know this. If it’s better not to drive, come up with an alternative.

If there is no other choice, driving slowly and keeping the car on course are key. Usage of breaks should be to help assist with the path of the car, rather than an instant fix for veering off course; that could result in some serious damage to your car, yourself, other cars, property, cyclists and even pedestrians nearby. There is no such thing as going too slow after a night of freezing rainfall. Protect yourself, your vehicle and everybody around you by setting the example and keeping yourself in safe hands on the road.

 

What if somebody hits me?

If you happen to suffer an incident in the icy conditions and fall victim to an accident at the hands of somebody else, as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian or passenger, then you do have options to help get past any damages caused. Road traffic accidents in the winter on ice can escalate from what would be very minor bumps and scrapes, into serious incidents because of the lack of control.

Collisions in the winter months can not only cause excess, unnecessary damage but the cost of the damage both financially and physically can wreak havoc on carefully laid plans during the holiday season. If you do happen to suffer in an incident, Sincere Law is available to help deal with serious injury claims as a result of a road traffic accident on icy roads. We are available to contact every day from 8am to 9pm via phone on 0800 092 2896, by email at info@sincerelaw.co.uk or by filling in our contact form here on our website.

We’ve assisted clients up and down the UK for the last 24 years in the serious injury sector. Inside our headquarters we have assembled a large team of the top UK Solicitors each with their own extensive background. With so many professional resources available, your best choice in serious injury law is Sincere Law.

 

Safety on the school run – Part 1

After an exciting summer break with plenty of adventure, fun and a few (well, a lot) of rainy days; it’s finally ‘back to School’ time! September has worked its way towards us all summer until we are finally here, the beginning of the new academic year and the next set of School runs. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to remind yourself to be extra vigilant and take all necessary precautions to stay safe when walking your child into School. Part 1 of this 2 part article aims to help remind all parents walking with children of the dangers of not staying vigilant on roads around schools.

Casualties around schools

Managing road traffic accidents involving children aged 16 and under is a large task in the UK. With statistics showing 2,412 children killed or seriously injured in 2011 and 800 of the same incidents in 2012, it’s imperative to ensure the decline continues and incidents involving school children are prevented. Post 2000 there has been a positive and steady decrease in the amount of children seriously injured by road users (see below); hopefully this can continue with both drivers and pedestrians around schools more mindful of their surroundings, exercising correct caution.

 

school road traffic accidents

Source – http://makingthelink.net/child-deaths-road-traffic-accidents

Keeping the graph in mind, Sincere Law has looked into the most common reasons for accidents involving children around schools and has come up with our best practices to remember when walking your child to the school gates each morning. Some of them may already be very obvious, but it never hurts to revise; the cost of your child’s health and life is far too important!

Staying safe for pedestrians

1. Hand in hand is the way to go

Younger children feel safer when an adult is there to hold their hand through many situations. From a young age it is a good idea to get them into the habit of holding hands while crossing the road for safety. Of course from a parent’s perspective, having your child in hand will ensure no running out in front will occur, lowering the risk of falling from the pavement or straying into the road towards danger.

2. Beware when between cars

There isn’t always a zebra crossing, pelican crossing or crossing guard available outside every school. If there is outside of your child’s school, make the most of it/them and encourage your child to always use the safest spots to cross. If the school however is on a road that has cars parked along the perimeter, it is vital to impress upon your child the dangers of crossing between cars on a busy street. If avoidable, always cross where there is clear daylight to see oncoming cars and bikes so they can see you. If though you have no other options, do not walk out between them, but take extra time and care to let yourself and your child have a clear crossing.

The Beatles - Abbey Road                                                               The Beatles setting a good example of a safe crossing

3. Take the outside lane

An unwritten parental rule is to have your child walk to your left and away from any road. Younger children in particular will sometimes veer off course, maybe stumble or try and walk off ahead by themselves. The closer to the road they walk the higher risk of danger from passing vehicles. Of course around a school environment we all would hope drivers obey the 20mph speed limits and drive safely, but to not take that risk and enforce “adults on the road side” can avoid any falling/venturing into the road and into the path of imminent dangers.

4. Copy David Prowse’s fine example

Back in the 1970’s, 1980’s and as late as 1990, Britain’s premier bodybuilder of the era, known best on the big screen as Darth Vader; David Prowse; portrayed to children across the nation the knowledagble ‘Green Cross Code Man’. The faux superhero protected youngsters who strayed near the road and didn’t pay attention, warning them of the dangers of doing so. While he may not be around to guard our school runs in 2015, his message lives on. Impart on your children the green cross code, the tried and tested stop, look, listen and cross. You don’t need to wear a white and green costume to bring enlightenment to your children on road safety.

5. Encourage constant concentration

While knowledge of the green cross code can help instil the routine needed to stay safe on the roads (not just on the way to school), it also needs to be accompanied by an alert pedestrian. Reminding your child to keep looking when crossing, even when holding your hand, will help keep their mind vigilant; doing so regularly will also help develop the understanding of always looking and always watching for hazards. For best practice it is worth teaching them to keep looking each way even when crossing to make sure no imminent danger is approaching like an unseen bike or a car that has sped up and approaching faster than anticipated. Only when on the opposite side is everything safe again.

6. Timing is key

We understand the hectic nature of a family home in the morning, parents trying to drink down their hot tea or coffee in one go as they grab their coat to leave for work, the children are never seemingly ready for school and in a constant state of “just have to put my shoes on” and the dog is still hungry from not being fed yet. A household is incredibly hard to manage in a morning and it is tempting once you leave with child in hand to let autopilot take over as you rush to get them to school on time. Being late and rushing can compromise safety if attention drops. It may be a difficult suggestion to make, but making sure everybody leaves 5 minutes earlier than usual could very well ensure a race against the clock is not on the cards and awareness is increased. An alert and attentive mind not preoccupied with trying to beat the clock could save lives!

Road accidents by schools – the impact

The result of a car, motorcycle or even a bicycle striking a child under 16 can have devastating consequences. Cars driving above 30mph can kill children due to the body not being fully developed and able to cope with the impact. Even bicycles can cause severe internal bruising, bleeding, bone breaks and head injuries as a result of the initial strike.

Not all accidents with children by schools are fatal, but a non fatal crash can change lives just as much. The likelihood of sustaining harsher impact injuries such as spinal damage, brain damage, bone breaks and hyperextensions in the body are higher than that of an adult. The results can require lengthy rehabilitation from the resetting of bones, repair and physiotherapy needed to help muscle tears, and potentially psychological assistance as suffering from an incident at a young age can affect a child for the remainder of their life.

Alterations to lifestyles could be required from help moving around the house if the accident results in limited or loss of mobility and care may need to be provided if there are effects on the ability to perform regular tasks. Having dealt with very sensitive cases such as these for over 20 years we know what is required to help a family and child recover as best they can from an accident on the road, around school or otherwise. If you or somebody you know has suffered from an incident involving a child on the road, feel free to call us for expert, impartial advice on 0800 092 2896 or contact us here for all the information you need to start a claim and get some measure of justice for your family’s misfortune.