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When Are Roads the Most Slippery?

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We are mobile creatures and travel far and wide to get to our jobs, family and friends and vacations around the globe. While there are several modes of travel, driving on the roads is where we spend the most time getting from A to B.

Driving conditions are sometimes less than stellar and are usually weather-dictated. We must adjust our driving habits to stay safe and remain at our destinations.

Are you wondering about the best times to tackle our highways and byways? When are the roads the most slippery?


Ice is the ultimate in a slippery surface, regardless of whether you are walking or driving on it. Like frost, water vapour and a cold surface start the formation of ice, but if the temperatures don’t rise to burn it off, it stays on the road and can further accumulate.

Once precipitation is combined on a day when the temperature stays near or at freezing, the water builds up on the surface. Snow, freezing rain, and wind further contribute to icy roads.

Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice that is even more dangerous because you don’t always see it. It is formed by existing ice on the road surface that melts with rising temperatures, only to freeze again and form this new, thin layer.

While you can see regular ice and snow on the road and make defensive adjustments to your driving, black ice blends in, and you can easily lose control of your vehicle. Use liquid deicer to make the roads less slippery.

Loose Material

We think of roads and continuous pathways of asphalt, smooth and clear. While most roads are free of large debris, sometimes they can get covered in loose material, making it harder to gain adequate traction and friction with the road.

Roads besides construction sites are slippery because vehicles carry dirt, gravel and sand. When you drive on it, you no longer have a firm connection with the pavement, and when turning, braking or accelerating, your tires may slip on the surface.

Leaves are another barrier to getting solid contact with the road surface. In the fall, the leaves accumulate on the ground and streets, so if you are driving near roads lined with trees, be careful of it being slippery.


Mud is a mix of earth and water that produces soft, sticky material, and it causes an unstable surface to navigate on. Usually, it doesn’t accumulate on the roads, but mud can flow onto the road after severe weather events and cause a slippery danger.

Besides a muddy flow on the road, dirt on the surface, mixed with rainfall, produces this, becoming an instant hazard.


Rain is a common weather event, and regardless of the severity of a downpour, driving gets more dangerous when it hits the road’s surface.

Rain can quickly accumulate on asphalt because it doesn’t permeate the surface. This causes pooling and puddle forming, making it hard to avoid and slippery to drive through. When it rains after warm weather, water mixed with oil, tar, dirt, and grease forms a slippery concoction, increasing the danger.

Cold weather conditions are equally dangerous with rain as it can freeze and become an icy road. Even as it melts, you now have to deal with slushy conditions, and it is a hazard when turning and braking.

Dew & Frost

Ice is the most slippery covering that can develop on our streets. Moisture-laden air or vapour at night can produce dew on the surface of objects above freezing, like the road. Frost covers ice crystals formed by freezing water droplets on a cold surface. Both create a thin layer of moisture and ice, affecting your ability to make firm contact with the road.

Both dew and frost tend to burn off fairly quickly as the temperature rises, but it is most prevalent overnight and first thing in the morning when driving to work.


Snow is a beautiful, white substance that magically falls from the sky, but in reality, it is just frozen water vapour that turns to ice crystals while gravity deposits it on the ground.

For driving, snow accumulation on the roads can be dangerous. It builds up fast and causes a barrier to safe navigation. Even worse, as you drive on it, the snow gets compacted and turns into a solid structure on the road, making it uneven and very slippery. Even when the roads are scraped, slush or ice can be left behind that is still extremely dangerous to drive on.

These are when the roads are most slippery. We all need to be cautious when driving in this condition, and if possible, try to avoid going out on the roads when it is dangerous.

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