The Hidden Danger on Australia’s Roads

Before I get to that, I’m going to talk about the hidden dangers on the UK’s roads that most Australians have probably never heard about. It’s called black ice.

Over to Wikipedia to explain black ice:

Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent, allowing black asphalt/macadam roadways or the surface below to be seen through it—hence the term “black ice”.

The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or persons stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of skidding and subsequent accident due to the loss of traction. A similar problem is encountered with diesel fuel spills on roads.

Now let’s talk about driving in Australia.

Smash

I’ll get to that in a minute.

You already know that our accident rate is much worse than the UK’s. You might also know that some of our youngsters drive like lunatics and they have a special name. You may even also know that our driving tests work differently here.

If you don’t know any of these things, you soon will:

What you probably don’t know though about driving in Australia is that we get our own kind of strange equivalent to ‘black ice’; but it is nothing to do with ice at all. And you certainly don’t get anything like it back in the UK.

Why?

Because it starts with long periods, very long periods, of hot and dry weather. These very long periods of hot and dry weather are eventually broken by heavy rainfall, maybe even a storm.

And that is when our roads become like an ice rink, similar to black ice.

Here’s what happens; during the hot dry spells, oil, grease and grime builds up and is pretty much baked onto the surface of our roads. When the rain falls, they dilute that mix turning it into a slippery oil like slick.

It’s dangerous!

And this is what happened to our friend’s teenage daughter when it rained for the first time in a couple of months, which brings us back to that smashed car…

smashed car

Her car span out of control in the rain (after a very long dry period in case you’d forgotten) as she drove home one evening, spinning full circle before slamming into a telegraph pole with a thud. A local resident instantly knew what this thud meant; he’d heard it several times before from the very same telegraph pole.

He rushed out to find the young girl trapped in the car; as you can see from this image, there wasn’t much room around the drivers seat…

drivers seat

He called for an ambulance and held her hand until help arrived. They had to cut away the back door to get her out of the car…

cut door

Be aware of wet roads after dry spells

If you don’t want to get a phone call that says “your son/daughter has been involved in a car accident, you need to make your way to the hospital as soon as you can” then you need to be aware and your older car driving children need to be aware of the dangers of slippery roads after the first rainfalls following long dry spells.

You will be very pleased to hear, as we all were, that our friends daughter, apart from the concussion and the shock, made a full recovery with no permanent harm done.

Australia is a country littered with roadside memorials, I know of three within five minutes drive of where I live. Tell everyone you know, even if they’re not interested, to drive carefully.

Especially in the rain.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • jim January 16, 2014, 6:41 pm | Link

    This happens in the UK too Bob, except we don’t get quite as much dry weather between rain as you might! Probably been 5 years since you drove in the UK or more, but it’s as bad as I found Australia to be when validating my visa last year!

    That said, I’m heading out next month to NSW to start the new job and sort out a rental before bringing the family over! Thanks for the great website!

    • BobinOz January 17, 2014, 1:11 pm | Link

      Yes, I suspect it can happen in the UK if you have a long enough dry hot spell, I suspect that’s the tricky part though 🙂

      Good luck in NSW next month, hope it goes well Jim.

      Bob

  • Sylwia January 16, 2014, 5:04 pm | Link

    thanks for info. it happened to me twice (fortunately not so dramatic) and I had no idea what was going on. thanks again

    • BobinOz January 17, 2014, 1:09 pm | Link

      Scary when it happens, isn’t it? A couple of gentle warnings is the best introduction to this problem 🙂

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