By Tom Janis, USAG Bavaria Emergency Manager
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Driving in Germany is particularly challenging with the speeds and the amount of traffic on the roadways.
Add winter conditions and the road conditions will deteriorate quickly with rain, ice and snow.
A particular hazard of driving in Germany in the winter time is the danger of “black ice” or Glatteis. Black ice, also known as “glare ice” or “clear ice,” refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a road. While not truly black, it is transparent, allowing you to see the asphalt pavement through it.
Black ice often occurs along with wet roads, making it hard to see and especially hazardous for driving or walking. If starting to lose control, steer toward the edge of the road where residues of sand and salt might help.
How German Road Treatments Differ
Chemicals Used Treat Roads in Winter
Sodium chloride (salt) and calcium chloride are chemicals used to prevent and remove snow and ice from roadways.
The Directorate of Public Works, or DPW, uses calcium chloride and sodium chloride for pre-treatment. In dry form they are used for de-icing but can be used in some cases for anti-icing.
Sodium Chloride, or salt, is DPW’s primary snow-removal and ice-control chemical. It is applied directly to the pavement once a storm starts. Salt is sometimes mixed with sand before it is applied to the road.
Dry salt is most effective after snow has accumulated about an inch and the temperature is 20° F or higher. If the temperature is below 20° F, salt may not melt enough snow and ice to form a barrier between the pavement and the snow, and it could even produce more ice as melted snow refreezes.
At these temperatures, abrasives such as sand are put down to break up ice and increase traction.
What Areas Are More Prone To Have Ice?