driving conditions were made treacherous at the weekend when black ice compounded problems on the region's snow-affected roads.

One person died and police reported a large number of minor accidents as many vehicles slid off the road.

The fatal crash happened in North Yorkshire, where there was a spate of accidents, many on the busy roads leading in and out of York.

A security van and an articulated lorry collided on the A1237 bypass, between Copmanthorpe and Rufforth, at about 10.15am on Saturday.

Firefighters freed two men from the Securicor van and both were taken to hospital in York, where one later died.

In a three-hour period on Saturday, police answered more than 20 accident calls in the area, stretching resources to the full, said a spokesman.

Standing water from the recent flooding exacerbated the problem but transport chiefs said roads has been salted.

Police in County Durham said many motorists had heeded advice to stay at home over the weekend.

Inspector Ivan Wood, of Bishop Auckland police, said: "We have only had a few minor accidents, with people skidding off the road into hedges and things like that. Really, people have been very sensible and we have had nothing serious.

"However, there have been reports of youngsters throwing snowballs at cars and other passing vehicles.''

Drivers in Shildon, County Durham, were re-routed by police after black ice prevented many vehicles from negotiating St John's Road.

Weathermen say the big freeze is expected to continue throughout the country for the whole of this week, but that today will be a fine day in the North-East despite a frosty start.

Yesterday, temperatures dipped as low as -4C but no severe weather warnings were expected in the immediate future, said a Met Office spokesman.

It was not bad news for everyone, and many youngsters dusted off their sledges and heading for the nearest steep hill.

* A North-East council's road maintenance team has been placed on 24-hour standby during the bad weather.

But a spokesman for Darlington Borough Council said that, due to the size of the borough and the scale of work that needs to be carried out, it will not possible for all roads in the town to be gritted.

As a rule, the team - which operates between October and March - grits roads twice a day, at 5am and 7pm.

There are nine gritting routes through the borough, covering 200 miles of road. The council uses up 23 tonnes of salt and grit during each run.

The spokesman said: "It is not possible for us to grit every road. Our advice to motorists is always give yourself extra travelling time and stick to major routes. Whether you use public transport, walk or use your car - take care."