The unusually warm December weather is gone and it finally winters in New Jersey. That means a wide range of possibly dangerous driving conditions, the most dangerous being black ice. It’s ice that may appear to blend in with the pavement so you may not notice it until you start losing control of your vehicle. Add that to New Jersey’s notoriously congested roads and you have a recipe for a winter wonderland of accidents and injuries.
Black ice forms when water freezes on roadways, creating a thin layer of possibly super-slippery ice.
- This water could come in the form of rain or sleet hitting freezing cold roads or from melting snow or ice.
- If the weather is dry and cold but the road looks glossy or wet, it may be covered with black ice, especially if the area is shaded, not well-traveled, or on a bridge or overpass.
- If black ice is under a layer of snow, you may overestimate how much traction you’re getting because it’s not really a snow-covered road . . . it’s an icy road.
Cars.com has some suggestions on avoiding black ice and, failing that, how to safely drive over it.
- Because they are up in the freezing cold air, not on top of the relatively warm land, use extreme caution when driving over bridges and overpasses in the winder. They normally freeze first and melt last.
- Don’t use cruise control.
- Stay in one lane if possible. Changing lanes increases the chances of hitting an icy patch between lanes.
- When driving on possibly icy roads, turn and brake slowly, adjust speed to road conditions and leave a long stretch of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you (three times more than usual) to increase the chances you can stop safely.
- Watch out ahead of you for brake lights, fishtailing, sideways cars, or emergency flashers.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes. If you have antilock brakes you don’t need to pump the pedal. The brake system should automatically slow the car down without locking up the brakes.
- If you find yourself driving over black ice, do your best just to travel over it without trying to brake or change direction.
- If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t be over-confident of its abilities and drive too fast for conditions. Four-wheel drive may give you more traction when going forward, but it won’t help you stop.
- Assuming there’s no ice over it, if you have the option, driving on snow should give you more traction than driving on ice.
- Your vehicle’s tires may not be good winter tires. Studded tires should perform better on ice than all-season tires and are legal in New Jersey from November 15 to April 1.
Perhaps the best way to deal with black ice is not to drive at all. If the conditions are right for black ice and your drive is optional, you should consider postponing the trip until the conditions improve. Black ice doesn’t just endanger vehicles. If you’re walking on a driveway, street, or parking lot that has black ice, it may be you and not your car that will crash, resulting in injuries.
If you’ve been injured in an accident on an icy road, contact our office, (973) 358-6134 so we can talk about how the accident happened, how other vehicles may have been involved, and how the law may apply in your case.