Black ice. We’ve all heard about it, and we all know it’s dangerous. But, just what is black ice, how dangerous can it be, and how do we protect ourselves when we can’t see it coming? Black ice is a thin, highly transparent (almost invisible) layer of ice formed on a surface when the temperatures are extremely low. Accidents happen all the time as a result of snowy and icy roads, especially those where black ice has formed. When we have no choice but to travel the designated route, is there anything that can be done to avoid being injured when black ice is present?
The first measure of safety when driving in any icy or after-storm conditions is to be cautious and pay attention to all road signs and warnings. Bridges, overpasses, railroad tracks and construction zones, as well as areas that do not receive much sun, are those most likely to have formation of this type of black ice. Signs that say “ice forms on bridge first” or “caution–icy conditions” are warnings to be taken seriously. Recent snowfall may have melted away, but patches of black ice are still present and when overnight, colder conditions come into play, the road only becomes worse. The only real visible sign is that the road might look wet, meaning the road could actually be wet or the part that looks wet could be black ice. In fact, any time you see another car swerve for no reason, you should take that as a red flag indicating that spot in the road might be where the black ice is hiding. Even parts of the road where melted ice occurs can be dangerous when it re-freezes, with or without salt or gravel that may have been placed on the road to provide traction.
Protecting yourself from injury when you feel you are losing control of your vehicle as a result of black ice is imperative. What happens if you do find yourself slipping? When you must drive in icy conditions, you’ll want to do the following:
- Travel slowly. In dangerous conditions, it does no good to move too quickly.
- Move in the direction of the skid if you feel that your back wheels are going in a different direction from the front of your car.
- Try to glide over the ice in the direction of the steering wheel, and keep your steering wheel set straight ahead.
- Keep your windows and vision spots clear.
- Disengage the cruise control.
- If you have an anti-lock brake system, make sure it is engaged.
- Take your foot off the accelerator in an attempt to slow down the vehicle.
- Do not pump the brakes.
- Try to find traction that might help your wheels grip more effectively, and try to move toward that area.
- The shoulder of the road is not always the safest place to park. Instead, see if you can direct your car further off the road and away from traffic.
- If you do find yourself walking along the road, be aware of other drivers who might find themselves in the same situation you did and might be skidding on the ice.
- Don’t panic.
- The best advice is to stay put and avoid driving when the conditions present any imminent danger of icy conditions or probability of black ice.
If you have been injured or involved in an accident where a vehicle hit you due to icy or black ice conditions, dealing with the aftermath can be stressful and intimidating. Car accident attorneys in New York and other outlying areas are expert in settling cases involving extreme weather conditions. You’ll want to seek one who has a proven history at investigating the causes of these types of accidents, and settling favorably for your future.