An SUV is rolled over onto its side in a ditch.

Laura Barton/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network
This vehicle slid off Webber Road and into a ditch Wednesday morning and was one of two collisions along a stretch that had black ice. The crash was one of 19 vehicle incidents reported to Niagara Regional Police during the morning hours.

Wednesday morning’s road conditions made the morning commute a challenge as drivers had to avoid fallen trees, branches and hydro lines all while making sure not to slide off the road.

Niagara Regional Police Const. Virginia Moir said there was “a higher than normal call volume” as reports about collisions and road hazards came in.

In total, there were 12 hazard reports and 19 traffic collisions due to black ice across the region.

Moir said the collisions looked like they were not speed-related.

“I think people were just driving slow enough, but as soon as you hit the black ice, they were just sliding into each other,” she said.

Many of the crashes also didn’t involve more than one vehicle.

One of the two-vehicle collisions happened on Webber Road near Balfour Street and involved a car and a police cruiser. Moir said the cruiser was parked at the side of the road at abput 7:40 a.m. with its lights on and a vehicle lost control and hit it.

About an hour later near South Pelham Road, an SUV lost control and flipped onto its side on the opposite side of the road.

Neither crash resulted in any injuries.

When weather conditions result in road hazards — one piece of advice that both the NRP and CAA Niagara offer is to drive according to road conditions.

CAA Niagara spokesman Alex Pedersen said it’s important to check road conditions before heading out for the day.

“Even though there was no snow on the ground, drivers still need to be aware of black ice and drive accordingly,” she said. “I know for me when I’m getting ready in the morning I look out and I think, ‘Yes, I don’t have to shovel my car off,’ but you’re not thinking what else (there) is.”

If there is ice on the roads, one of the recommended ways to deal with it is winter tires. Pedersen said winter tires improve the ability for stopping on snow and ice when temperatures dip below 7˚C.

In the event someone does hit black ice, Pedersen said drivers need to resist the panic they might feel, resist hitting the brakes and keep the wheel as straight as possible.

“It’s a natural instinct, but by hitting your brakes, your brakes will lock and then you lose control of your vehicle,” she said. “So by staying calm, you have more control over your vehicle and can pass over the ice.”

Pedersen said CAA Niagara also had a spike in calls Wednesday morning of people needing assistance.

“Mornings like this, there’s more cars in ditches, as well as cars have a tendency to slide into curbs, so we do see an increase in accident-related calls.”

Source: Welland Tribune