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401 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 1827975 23-Jul-2017 22:01
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Uber Geek

  # 1828038 23-Jul-2017 23:50
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Can't see a great level of detail from the pics, but it doesn't look like the road is in great condition after the bridge. Are they patched areas on the road surface, or is that just water?


Mad Scientist
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Uber Geek

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  # 1828061 24-Jul-2017 00:30
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The cause was ice on the bridge.


What time of the day was it?

Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.

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Master Geek

  # 1828235 24-Jul-2017 10:43
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What time of the day was it?



6:30-6:40pm — it had been dark for 1.5 hours already.


The thing was that we had driven the same way the same day before — around 3:30pm, so that sort of made me extra (and effectively over-) confident when driving there again 3 hours later. We first started going back from Milford Sound closer to 3pm with the intention to do the Lake Marian hike (the start of the track is shortly after the crash site). After roughly 40 minutes of hiking we realised that we were going the wrong track, so we started discussing what to do: return and hike the right track to the Lake, or skip and drive elsewhere. My call was to go ahead to Te Anau and see other places on our way because it will be dark soon. But the two friends really wanted to go back to Milford Sound to see the sunset. I did not want to do that and I told it them, but I was also very keen to please them as they were tourists. So I agreed to go back. And that was basically the turning point that led to the crash.


Given that nobody was injured, I now feel/think that not only we were extremely lucky, but also that the crash was a good/necessary thing to happen. If it didn't, I would now have thought "Black ice is probably a myth — I can drive on it 70+ kph no problem!", which would definitely lead to another crash at some point later. And that could easily be fatal. So this was basically an expensive (I had 3rd party insurance only) but very important lesson. Although I am not superstitious or religious, these kind of events make me think ours lives are somewhat orchestrated. After all, if the ditch we went into was a few meters deeper, this thread on this forum probably wouldn't have been started.

5385 posts

Uber Geek

  # 1828257 24-Jul-2017 10:58
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Bridges suck in winter.  They cool down and warm up faster and they can also hold water.


There is one between Blenheim and Havelock (used to be my daily commute) that is on a slight curve and gets iced quite often in winter.  It's caused quite a few accidents.


I find the best way to be aware of the possibility of black ice is watching outside temp (if your car can display it) and looking for clues of freezing near the road edge - icicles, frozen puddles visible frost etc.  On a familiar road it usually occurs in the same places.


Sometimes you can spot it as others have said, but often it's invisible.  So your only hope is to be driving slowly and not doing anything sudden


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Uber Geek

  # 1828758 24-Jul-2017 23:43
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I feel you have learned a very expensive lesson. My first lesson in snow was very expensive. I crashed my uncle's Jakaroo because of driving too fast, I was 16 and the excess was expensive for me to pay at that age. But I learned the lesson. And have had plenty of practice on marginal traction surfaces since.

You have to be thinking ahead when driving on winter roads, and if you sense that traction is lost, you can't make any major correction until traction is regained. Your impulse is to turn harder or brake, but you have to resist the impulse until you feel traction again.

Looking at your photos there is nothing different you could have done for the speed you were already going.

The key for the future is identifying where the hazard might be, and responding by reducing speed prior to the locations where the outcome of such a hazard could prove disastrous at pace. Eg corners, downslopes, and bridges.

In your case you had all three!

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