Temperatures are dropping across New England and, as winter unfolds, frigid mornings with slick roads are becoming more common. As Connecticut residents, this scenario is certainly familiar. Unfortunately in some cases, to the point when you look at the dreary and disappointing morning commute and think, “I’ve got this.”

Yet, do you really? Many drivers fail to realize that accident rates on ice are significantly higher than those involving packed snow. What’s even worse is that the snow is clearly visible in most conditions. Ice – particularly when slippery and nearly invisible black ice covers part of the road – sneaks up on many drivers. As such, both the individual who follows the rules of the road and the one who tends to be a risk taker get surprised, making spur-of-the moment decisions that frequently lead to serious crashes.

Consider the following hazards involving icy roads and be more aware of your safety this winter.

1. Lack of Visibility

winter driving Whether it covers the road in a sheet in patches, ice can’t always be seen; especially when black ice forms after precipitation freezes to the asphalt. Furthermore, because the ground warms at a slower pace than the air, ice can still form even when the temperature is above freezing.

A driver is often traveling on what seems like a wet road, when these ultra-slick patches catch him or her by surprise. When the driver isn’t fully prepared to slow down, the car may fishtail or slide across the road, potentially leading to an accident.

2. Lack of Traction

No matter how the ice forms, one factor is constant: Your tires don’t have contact with the pavement, which lessens your control and increases abnormal behavior. In this dangerous situation, your tires can’t get a strong grip on the road, which poses challenges when you steer or attempt to stop. Worsening the situation, shocked drivers may apply their brakes, which causes a vehicle to slip and slide, increasing the risk of an accident even more.

Instead, it’s recommended that you decelerate and apply the brakes gradually when you hit a patch of ice. Slowing your speed and increasing your distance from other motorists is a safety precaution for everyone on the roads during an ice storm.

3. Less Consistency

The contrast of packed snow that’s visible on the roads indicates where it is and isn’t. Ice can be just as patchy, abut its near-transparent consistency means you can’t always detect it. For instance, ice and snow may melt during the day, making the roads seem clear and drivable. But, when temperatures fall in the evening, the precipitation re-freezes as ice, turning seemingly safe streets into more of a hazard.

Additionally, ice is more likely to form over a bridge. As a result, the roads may seem dry or just slightly wet, but become slippery as soon as you start driving over a bridge.

4. All Drivers are at Risk

Statistics indicate that accidents on ice don’t always happen because of careless driving. Rather, they occur when a motorist gets surprised by a sudden patch, even when he or she is being careful on the roads.

While more deaths per year occur from heat, a larger percentage of these individuals are elderly and home-bound. For potentially fatal accidents, more people drive through icy conditions. Unlike blizzards and tornadoes, storm warnings are not always given for ice on the road and the times during which drivers are more likely to hit a slippery patch coincide with commuting. While local DOTs may de-ice the highways and main streets in preparation, the onus of staying safe is primarily placed on the motorist.

5. Drivers Overestimate Their Safety

The average New Englanders can likely tell you a story about driving through extreme winter conditions, but even the biggest blizzard is no match for black ice. When driving on ice, most people overestimate their abilities or believe that their modern vehicle is more adept at handling the conditions, with its anti-lock brakes, snow tires and traction control.

Instead of believing they’ll just get through it with no problem, it’s imperative that motorists drive defensively. Make sure you have three to 12 times the stopping distance, especially if you’re driving a larger, heavier vehicle. You never know when the car in front of you will come to a complete stop, so allowing yourself that extra space while traveling at a slower speed and being completely aware of your surroundings reduces your accident risk.
When it comes to ice, even the safest drivers can find themselves in a car accident and, subsequently, dealing with injuries, time off from work and an insurance company that won’t pay up. For the compensation you deserve, get Trantolo & Trantolo’s attorneys involved. To learn more, contact us today.