Black ice is one of the most dangerous road hazards that New Jersey drivers face in the winter. Unfortunately, many motorists fail to drive with extra caution in the winter, especially on a clear day or night when there haven’t been any recent storms. However, drivers should always treat the roads as a little more dangerous in the wintertime due to the risks posed by black ice.
What is Black Ice?
Black ice is a thin, transparent layer of ice that can form on top of road surfaces. Because it is transparent, black ice doesn’t obscure the asphalt surface underneath, giving black ice its name. This can make it harder for drivers to spot patches of black ice on the road. Black ice can remain on the road even during a clear, bright day, especially on portions of the road shaded by trees.
Black ice poses a significant danger to drivers because a vehicle that hits a patch of black ice may spin out of control. As a vehicle tire runs over black ice, it loses traction with the road surface, which can cause the vehicle to begin skidding or spinning. Even all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles can skid or spin on black ice. A vehicle is especially likely to spin out on black ice if the driver is using cruise control since the cruise control’s response to a tire losing traction on black ice is to accelerate the vehicle.
What Causes Black Ice?
Black ice most frequently forms after light rains when the temperature subsequently falls below freezing. Black ice will first form on bridges and overpasses because the top and bottom of the road surface are exposed to the air, freezing the road surface more quickly.
Black ice can also form whenever there is excess moisture in the air overnight or in the early morning hours, such as in a heavy fog, with water settling and freezing on the cold road surface.
Safety Tips to Avoid Accidents Caused by Black Ice
Drivers can follow several important safety tips to help reduce their chances of hitting black ice or getting into a car accident:
- Drive slowly, even below the posted speed limit. Hitting black ice while speeding will make it harder for a driver to regain control from a skid. Black ice also dramatically increases a vehicle’s stopping distance.
- Use your headlights, even during the day, especially when driving through wooded areas. The light from your headlights may reflect off patches of black ice, warning you of its presence.
- Check your tires to make sure they have good tread. Equip your vehicle with all-weather or winter tires.
- Never drive with cruise control.
- Steer slowly, without making any sudden or jerking motions on the steering wheel.
How to Recover from a Skid
If you feel your vehicle begin to skid on an icy road surface, the first thing to do is to remember not to panic. If you are traveling at a reasonable speed, it is possible to recover from a skid:
- Front-wheel-drive vehicles: Lift off the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid. Do not step back onto the accelerator until you have regained control of the vehicle, and do not use the brakes unless absolutely necessary.
- Rear-wheel-drive vehicle: Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go and gently press the accelerator.
- All-wheel-drive: Steer slowly out of the direction of the skid
If your vehicle doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes lightly if you need to brake. For vehicles with anti-lock brakes, the brake pedal can be pressed gently but normally if you need to brake.
Contact a Chatham Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Blume, Forte, Fried, Zerres & Molinari represent clients injured because of car accidents in Parsippany, Mount Olive, Rockaway, Union City, and throughout New Jersey. Call (973) 635-5400 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at One Main Street, Chatham, NJ 07928, as well as offices in Jersey City, Sea Girt, and North Bergen.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.