black ice caught many motorists unaware yesterday - after gritters stayed parked because the council wasn’t expecting a sudden fall in temperatures across Doncaster.
Areas to the south of the borough were particularly badly affected and rush hour was disrupted for many motorists after the main road from Bawtry to Doncaster had to be closed because of crashed vehicles.
South Yorkshire Police began issuing traffic alerts just before 7am when the extent of the problem became apparent, as drivers making their way to work started skidding on black ice.
Doncaster Council admitted they had not gritted during the night, although neighbouring councils had, and dispatched gritting lorries to the worst affected areas shortly after dawn.
Weather forecasters had given the impression the overnight temperature in South Yorkshire would not drop below one or two degrees, but most motorists went out yesterday morning to find ice had formed on their windscreens and on surface water still lying from the rapid weekend thaw.
Fire crews were first called to the A614 at Hatfield Woodhouse where a woman in her 50s had to be released from her crashed car.
Another incident was reported at 7am on Moss Road, Moss, where a car ended up on its roof.
But the most disruptive incidents were on the A638 near Bawtry where two crashes were reported in less than half an hour.
The first was on Doncaster Road at 6.35am, involving a 24-year-old woman whose Vauxhall Corsa went out of control on ice. She was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Two other cars were in a collision on Great North Road, near the entrance to Yorkshire Caravans, at 7.05am. Police decided to close the A638 to prevent further accidents.
Traffic from both directions was diverted through Austerfield and along High Common Lane to get to Doncaster.
Just after 6.45am South Yorkshire Police issued a traffic alert saying: “Please be aware there have been numerous road traffic accidents in the South Yorkshire region this morning, and motorists should take extreme caution.
“There are reports of black ice, especially in the Doncaster, Bawtry and Finningley areas.”
Buses taking children to Hayfield School from the Bawtry area were cancelled.
Staff at Doncaster Royal Infirmary also had to contend with extra injury cases after the black ice became apparent.
A spokesman for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals said: “We’ve had small numbers of patients presenting at our emergency departments with injuries from falls or road traffic accidents.”
Doncaster Council chiefs admitted the overnight freeze had caught them on the hop.
Director of Regeneration and Environment Peter Dale said: “The daily decisions our highways team makes are always susceptible to changes unforeseen by weather forecasters.
“Last night the temperatures and conditions were worse than those predicted.
“Gritters were sent out first thing this morning to help deal with icy conditions on the roads.”
Last night’s temperatures were predicted to fall no lower than seven degrees in Doncaster.