Just because winter is milder in Memphis than in other parts of the country doesn’t mean we aren’t at risk for seasonal injury hazards. In fact, as an auto accident lawyer Memphis has turned to for more than 30 years, I often find that we are less prepared precisely because we don’t see the same winter blizzards as you do in the midwest or New England, for instance.
You can never be too cautious on the road, especially during the winter. It’s extremely critical that we all educate ourselves about black ice, a dangerous wintertime phenomenon that we cannot even see.
Black Ice: How to Spot It
According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 150,000 car accidents occur each year from driving on icy surfaces. It’s safe to assume that many of these involve black ice, a clear coating of ice that lies on top of paved surfaces such as roads and sidewalks.
Its name reflects the fact that we can’t usually see it. Black ice forms on road surfaces and is similar to regular ice, except it has fewer air bubbles, which makes it more difficult to detect.
Often, we don’t know that we’ve driven on black ice until there’s no chance to take precautions. As Julie Lee, national director of AARP Driver Safety, told AccuWeather, “The biggest danger [with black ice] is that you are at the mercy of your vehicle and the ice until your car passes over it.”
One of the best ways to prepare for black ice is to be mindful of the weather conditions. If it’s below freezing, you should take precautions any time you see a wet spot.
Tips for Driving on Black Ice
Because you won’t know when you’re driving on black ice, it’s critical to be prepared. Please be aware that some of my tips differ from basic safety instruction for driving in snow.
- Drive slowly and steadily over patches of black ice.
- Black ice is smooth, so it can be difficult to stop if you’re driving too fast. If you’ve reached a patch of black ice, remove your foot from the accelerator right away.
- Brakes and black ice skids do not go well together. Do not slam on the brakes under any circumstances.
- Don’t rely on tools such as studded tires, snow chains, and four-wheel drive—they don’t work on black ice.
- If you overcorrect a skid, your car may spin in the other direction. Rather, gently turn into the skid while pumping the brakes. Return the steering wheel to normal when you are no longer skidding.
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