In winter, it is essential for all motorists to be aware of the dangers posed by driving across icy bridges. A bridge will always freeze faster and amass snow drifts more quickly than the roads it is connected to, as all the four surfaces of a bridge are affected by constant exposure to the elements. Many drivers are not expecting the driving conditions to be any different when crossing the bridge and, therefore, fail to drive with due caution, making a dangerous situation even more hazardous.
When driving across a road bridge in icy or snowy conditions, it is important to:
Drive cautiously, looking ahead of you at all times, and taking care to ensure that there is a very generous braking distance between you and the vehicle in front.
Aim to drive slowly and smoothly over the bridge, avoiding any unnecessary speeding-up or sudden brakes. Bridges are affected by high wind speeds and greater exposure to all weather conditions that have the potential to affect the handling of the vehicle. Imagine what could happen if a car drives too fast across an icy bridge. It could so easily result in skidding, sliding out of control and multiple car crashes.
Always drive with your headlights on. Even if it is a bright sunny day, this is considered good practice and is the reason why many cars made in Scandinavian countries are built with lights that automatically switch on when the engine is started. Greater visibility means greater safety. A useful tip; if you can see the reflections on the ice of the car in front of you, this means that there is black ice on the road and the driving conditions are dangerous.
If there is a lengthy queue on a long road bridge, such as the Forth Bridge or the Severn Bridge, open your window slightly to let some fresh air in and ensure that toxic gases such as carbon monoxide can’t build up in the car and potentially endanger your life.
Follow these tips and enjoy staying safe when driving across bridges this winter!