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The Dangers of Icy Roads and Black Ice

Knowing how to drive on black ice can help prevent accidents

Drivers should not underestimate the dangers of icy roads and black ice. In January of 2022, numerous commuters driving in New York and New Jersey ended up in accidents due to icy roads, black ice and rain slicked roads.

On one January day alone, the traffic map throughout New York showed more than 90 incidents. The New Jersey traffic map showed more than 50 freeway and highway incidents throughout the state, according to nbcnewyork.com.

Why is black ice so dangerous?

For one thing, black ice is virtually invisible. Black ice is actually transparent ice. It forms during freezing rain or when snow melts and then re-freezes due to drops in temperatures.

If at all possible, people should avoid driving under such treacherous road conditions. However, if you must drive, there are factors to keep in mind.

How should you drive on icy roads and black ice?

Here are a few of the tips for driving on black ice provided by Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • When and where to watch out for black ice. It forms at night or early morning when there is no sunlight and temperatures are low. Dark patches of road that are not in the sunlight often have black ice. A tunnel, a tree-lined road, bridges and overpasses are areas where black ice is more common. In addition, it is more likely to be on roads that do not see much traffic.
  • How to spot black ice. Sometimes the road surface looks more glossy or shiny than other road areas. Also you might see other cars veer around a patch of black ice to avoid it.
  • Practice driving on ice. A vacant parking lot with ice on it is a good place to practice. You can accelerate and brake to get a feel for what happens. You can also practice coming out of a spin or slide.
  • What to do if you drive on a patch of black ice. Avoid reacting and hitting the brakes. Gently turn your steering wheel toward the same direction you are skidding, and at the same time, slow down your vehicle by de-accelerating. Simply lift your foot off the accelerator completely. This should straighten out the car. After slowing, if possible, then shift into low gear. Also, you can drive your car toward a less icy spot that has more traction to avoid further skidding. If your car has anti-lock brakes, when you press on the brake, it will pump the brakes for you as you skid. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, you can pump the brakes yourself and steer it in the direction you want to go.
  • Stay calm after the black ice incident. If you have to keep driving, drive slowly and put on your flashing lights to warn other drivers. The best precaution you can take is to leave the road as soon as you can. Stop at a rest stop, diner or even pull off the road. If possible, wait until crews put sand or salt on the road.

Do you need help with a case involved a car accident?

Our attorneys at Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLP have extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases, including car accidents. We offer a free consultation to explain your legal rights and determine whether grounds exist to sue. Call us at  516-248-2234 or 718-539-3100 or reach out to us through our contact form.

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