BLACK ice turned roads and pavements into skating rinks and caused chaos across South Yorkshire – despite an army of gritters working around the clock to keep the county moving.
A team of 20 gritters sprayed salt on Sheffield’s roads overnight on Thursday into Friday as rain fell and froze on impact as it hit the ground.
Around 200 tons of salt was spread across the city’s roads.
A spokeswoman for Amey, the contract firm which grits the roads for Sheffield city council, said: “Black ice formed throughout the night making conditions across the city difficult despite the gritting team of 20 gritters spreading a total of 200 tons of salt on the priority network roads.
“First thing Friday morning we sent the full fleet of gritters back out – doing everything we could to help people get to work. “We are salting city centre key pedestrian routes and pavements around the hospitals.”
Temperatures are not expected to go below freezing this weekend but the spokeswoman added: “We are monitoring the situation closely and have a full team available tonight and over the weekend should the weather forecast change. We have also spent the last week working to reduce the number of wet spots on our roads across Sheffield and will continue to do so.”
Emergency services were inundated with calls reporting crashes, with South Yorkshire Police receiving 280 extra calls than they would normally expect between 6am and 8am yesterday as motorists unaware of how treacherous the roads were ventured to work.
The fire service received 40 weather-related calls yesterday morning.
One of the most serious collisions involved five vehicles, including a fire engine and a paramedic’s car, which all skidded on the same icy stretch.
A Vauxhall Vectra was the first to lose control on Barnsley Road, Lane Top, Sheffield, and ended up ploughing into a tree.
Firefighters called out to deal with the collision, with reports that people may have been trapped, skidded on the same patch of ice and ended up crashing into the Vectra – crushing it even further.
A paramedic’s car, which was next on the scene, also ran out of control at the same spot and smashed into a lamppost – bending it in two.
Two other cars also crashed before police closed off the road.
A man was taken to hospital with serious injuries after his pick-up truck ran out of control on Brecks Crescent, Listerdale, Rotherham, and ended up crashing through a garden wall yesterday morning.
He managed to get out of his vehicle but then a van skidded on the same patch of ice and crashed into the pick-up truck driver.
At 4.45am yesterday a lorry skidded on the ice and crashed into Tankersley fire station.
A fire service spokeswoman said the lorry driver was shaken but otherwise unharmed.
A bus was involved in a smash on Foxhill Road near Foxhill Drive, Sheffield, and there were other collisions on roads across South Yorsire.
Buses also struggled to run on some roads across the county, with bosses having to divert some services because of hazardous road conditions.
Weather experts said the problem was caused by so-called ‘freezing rain’ - when the plummeting temperatures cause rain freeze on impact when it lands on the ground, covering surfaces with sheet ice.