Winter is quickly approaching and with this season comes plenty of inclement weather. Rain, sleet, snow and ice can make for an unpleasant driving experience. Motorists should be extremely cautious when driving in bad weather conditions. Ice covered roadways can be the most dangerous, especially when it turns out to be black ice, which is nearly invisible.
Understand that black ice is a glaze that forms on surfaces (especially roads, sidewalks, and driveways) because of a light freezing rain or because of melting and re-freezing snow, water, or ice. It’s called “black ice” because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road, although in reality, it’s actually clear.
Our Highland car accident lawyers understand that, based on news media reports, there were at least 477 deaths due to icy roads in the United States during the 2008-2009 winter season, and at least 458 during the 2009-2010 winter season. The two-year average is 467 fatalities per year. According to icyroadsafety.com, there were 14 fatalities due to icy-road accidents from 2009 to 2010 in the state of Indiana.
Accident, injury and fatality rates are much higher during freezing rain than any other type of road ice condition (including snow and sleet) due to its invisibility and element of surprise.
Unfortunately, black ice is very hard to detect, especially when there is no sunlight illuminating the surface of the road, which can sometimes create a glare. At night, it is nearly impossible to see even with the best headlights. Luckily, there are some other warning signs you can look for.
Keep an eye out on the temperature. If it’s below freezing, be on the lookout! You should always have a temperature gauge in your car. There are some available to purchase for relatively cheap if you have an older vehicle.
You also want to look out for water spray while driving. If the road is icing, you’re going to see very little water spray shooting up from your tires while driving.
Be especially cautious for black ice on overpasses, bridges and shady areas. These places are likely to freeze before any other part of the road. When approaching these areas, slow down, take your foot off of the gas and proceed with caution.
If you realize you’re driving on ice — stay calm. The last thing you want to do is slam on your brakes. Simply slow down by taking your foot off of the accelerator.
Make sure your windshield wipers are functioning, and don’t forget to check the level of your wiper fluid. Test your front and rear defrosters as well; impaired visibility is the last thing you want when driving on ice. If your car’s battery hasn’t been replaced in years, you should consider getting a new one. Top off your antifreeze as well. If you’re running low, you can damage your car’s cooling system. Lastly, don’t let the gas tank get below half empty in the winter.
Attorney Burton A. Padove represents auto accident victims. If you or a loved one has been injured, call (219) 836-2200 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
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