Be Aware of Black Ice When Driving During the Holidays in Massachusetts

On a day like today we can’t help but think about all the motor vehicle accidents that occur in the freezing and icy conditions. With the holidays a few days away, everyone should take extra precautions driving in the snow and ice so prevelant during the winters in Massachusetts. The sleet and below freezing temperatures make for a dangerous condition: Black Ice. Our attention is brought back to the dangers of black ice after remembering a report of a 17 year old girl that died after being involved in a trailer truck accident. The black ice on the roadway caused the vehicles to lose control and slide sideways into each other. The police observed upon arrival that the roadway was icy due to a recent rain freezing. The driver of the truck was distraught telling police he could do nothing to avoid the accident. Major issues of liability are created in accident like these.

What Exactly Is Black Ice

One of the biggest danger is road ice conditions where you’re basically at the mercy of your vehicle until you pass by the ice.  When it’s precipitating and the air is at or below 32°, black ice is inevitable. The name “black ice” developed because the ice tends to blend into the rest of the pavement but it’s actually a layer of clear ice and it’s extremely difficult to spot, especially at night. It’s the ground temperature that causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact. Even sleet and the refreezing of snow or water can generate black ice. 

The prime time for the development of this type of ice is between sunset and sunrise, when temperatures are typically at the lowest. Driving on black ice is similar in some respect to driving on snow, the biggest difference being the traction your vehicle retains. With snow there is some traction but with ice there is no traction at all.

Tips for Navigating Over Black Ice

First of all, if you are venturing out on a day with freezing temperatures and a snow/rain mix, you should know where to expect black ice.  It tends to form on roads without much sunshine, such as a treelined street or a tunnel. On roads less traveled on. It forms readily on bridges and overpasses. That’s why you see those street signs that say “Bridge Ices Before Road”. Cold air effects both the top and underneath of the overpass. You’ll see it sometimes in the right lighting conditions. For the most part the roadway is a dull color.  A glossy surface appearing to be wet is an indication of black ice.

The most important thing to remember when driving over black ice…don’t overreact.  Don’t hit the brakes and don’t steer, stay straight.  If you feel the back of the vehicle begin to slide to the left or right, gently turn the wheel in that direction.  Simply lift your foot off the accelerator because slowing down will give you more control.  As always in winter conditions, slow down.  Don’t tailgate.  Leave plenty of room between you and the person in front of you.  Keep your windshield clean and invest in a good pair of windshield wipers.  Always check your tire pressure and replace any tire that shows excessive wear.  Snow tires are always a good option.  Lastly, don’t use your cruise control in snowing, icy or stormy conditions.  It may cause to you react slower than you need to. 

Remember The Three Important Things to do After an Accident

If happen to be injured in a car crash that was caused by black ice, remember the Three Most Important Things to do After an Accident:

  1. Call 911 Immediately: This will get the police and an ambulance to the scene right away to treat anyone injured in the crash and secure the scene. Regardless of whose fault the accident was, getting medical attention right away for anyone injured is most important. Also, the police will issue a crash report that will come in handy later on if a personal injury claim is filed for injuries suffered in the crash.
  2. Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company. This is especially important with an accident that involves black ice. The other driver’s insurance company will certainly try to reach you to obtain a statement about how the accident happened. They will then try to use your statement to blame you for the accident or argue that you contributed to the crash. This way, they can deny your claim or reduce the amount of compensation they may have to pay by the percentage of comparative fault they assign you (based upon your statement). When black ice is involved in the crash, the insurance company will almost always claim that you were driving too fast or not careful enough for the conditions.
  3. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer or law office that specializes in auto accident cases will know how to protect your rights and advise you on the necessary steps to take in pursuit of fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries. Accident attorneys will also help you avoid the number of pitfalls that could hurt your case.

In addition to those three tips, another important things to consider after an accident is to take photographs. Pictures are great evidence to use in proving the other driver was at fault. For example, photographs that depict the damage to the vehicles, the location or intersection where the accident took place, and any skid marks or street signs in the area are helpful, especially with black ice. These can come in handy if the other driver and his insurance company are trying to place blame on you. 

Speak With An Experienced Injury Lawyer Today

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims.  We have successfully represented clients, who were seriously injured in auto accidents in the snow and icy conditions we see every winter here in Massachusetts. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries. 

Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to get a case evaluation or answers to your questions. 
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