As if the snowy, icy roadways weren’t bad enough, we’ve got another danger to worry about during this time of year — black ice. It not only affects our driving safety, but it also affects our walking safety. We all know that snow falls, melts and re-freezes. The familiar cycle is a fact of life in New York. So can you sue if you slipped on a snowy sidewalk or icy steps? Yes, if the property owner was negligent by failing to plow, sand or salt in a reasonable time after the storm.
While driving, roads are typically cooler in shady areas and drivers may encounter “black ice.” Black ice, in particular, is dangerous because it’s invisible (the term “black ice” being somewhat of a misnomer, as the ice is transparent). Typically, it’s a very thin layer of frozen water containing few bubbles of air. The lack of air bubbles makes the layer of ice transparent and causes the surface of the roadway to look slightly wet and not icy. This can be detrimental to drivers who come upon the black ice covered road unknowingly. Out of nowhere the vehicle can start to skid and slide in any direction, causing a vehicle to become out of control.
Bridges may be particularly susceptible to icing. Weather-related traffic accidents on the bridges throughout the five boroughs are an important focus because such accidents can quickly snarl traffic, resulting in long delays and even secondary traffic crashes.
Our Manhattan car accident attorneys understand that the best tip for winter driving is to stay at home until snow plows and sanding crews have done their work. If you crash on a snowy or icy road, you’ll certainly be late — or worse. But since you can’t always call in to work claiming a “snow day,” it’s important to know how to best navigate the roads when driving in the snow and on ice.
Tips for Handling Black Ice:
-Always slow your vehicle when you see shady areas under these types of conditions.
-Get a grip on the road. Make sure you’re tires are not worn and balding. You want to have at least 6/32-inch deep tread. Get rid of those “summer” tires as they don’t have enough grip to handle the snow. This is also your best bet with “all-season” tires. It’s time for specified “winter” tires.
-Increase your visibility. Make sure your windshield wipers are working properly and that your windshield is clean and clear. Try applying an anti-icing fluid to help.
-Look for water spray. If roadway icing is occurring, you will see very little if any water spray coming from the tires of your vehicle or other vehicles around you, even when the roadway appears to be wet. This is extremely dangerous as you are almost certainly driving on ice!
-Keep an eye out for black ice. Remember where icy roads tend to occur. Keep an eye out on the roads near bridges and intersections. Shady areas are also likely to form black ice. These areas freezes before more commonly traveled areas of the roadway.
-As soon as your car begins to slide on black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal. In fact, the last thing you want to do is give your car more gas. It is very important to slow down when you are driving on black ice or in any other winter road conditions.
-Keep the steering to a minimum. If an area of road causes you to lose grip on the pavement, most drivers will continue to turn the steering wheel. That’s not going to make the situation any better. If the icy conditions end and the front tires regain grip, your car will dart whichever way the wheels are pointed. Sadly, there are situations where nothing will prevent a crash, but turning the steering too much never helps.
-Never brake while driving on ice. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will cause a vehicle to skid. Brake only during your approach.
-Do not tailgate other vehicles, because you will need that extra car length if you brake, hit an icy patch, and lose control of your vehicle.
A factor in many of the serious and fatal crashes is overconfidence in one’s abilities and/or equipment (traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, good tires). Some feel that they have sufficient experience in winter driving, and can therefore continue normally (at or above the speed limit). But a fishtail on ice that occurs at highway speeds is usually unrecoverable by even the most quick-witted and experienced drivers.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations to car accident victims. Call 1-877-313-7673.
More Blog Entries:
Hit-And-Run Car Accidents on the Rise in New York, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, November 18, 2013
How Much Auto Insurance is Enough for a New Yorker, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, November 7, 2013