18 Mar Black Ice: Invisible, Inevitable, Injurious

Winter weather is full of scary sounding forms of precipitation. Sleet. Freezing rain. Graupel. Ice. Black ice. Subtle differences in air and surface temperature determine what conditions will be encountered. Of all the types, it can be argued that black ice poses the most serious risk to drivers because it is often impossible to see, yet can suddenly send a vehicle skidding rapidly out of control. In fact, it got its name because its transparency allows the dark pavement to show through.

Black ice forms on relatively dry pavement in thin sheets that develop when moisture collects on a road that is at a temperature below freezing. Rain, mist, fog, melting snow, and exhaust from idling vehicles can all be sources of water at risk for icing over. Though it can happen any time of day, patchy black ice often appears during late-night and early morning hours when temperatures are lowest. Even as temperatures rise, black ice hazards persist in shady areas, tunnels, on roads near bodies of water, on bridges, and on overpasses.

Slick, icy roads are responsible for a multitude of traffic accidents every winter. It is impossible to manage any vehicle on ice – not even maintenance crews or cars with winter tires are immune. However, there are a few precautions drivers can take to lower the chances of being involved in a black ice crash:

  • Check the thermometer. If temperatures are at or near freezing, realize that ice can form quickly.
  • Pay attention to those notices warning that bridges freeze before roads. Such signs are intended to get motorists to slow down and use extra caution.
  • Drive slowly, adjusting speed to road conditions, and leave at least 200 feet between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes, which increase your chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes.
  • If you begin to skid, don’t slam on your brakes or rapidly turn your steering wheel. Instead, ease your foot off of the accelerator, steer gently in the direction that you want the car to go, and slowly apply the brake to help regain some traction.
  • Don’t allow technology like all-wheel drive (AWD) or electronic stability control make you feel overconfident.

In our area of the country, black ice is always a wintertime possibility. If you are trying to put your life back together after a motor vehicle accident involving black ice or if you have any questions about this topic, trust your case to our attorneys. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 800-969-4400 or filling out a free case evaluation form and let us help you.

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