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What is black ice?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2017 | car accidents

Illinois roads in wintertime can put motorists increasingly at risk of a road accident due to snowfall and ice. However, there is one particular road danger that many Illinois drivers may not be aware of. Black ice, like other slippery surfaces, is a road hazard that can result in car accidents and personal injury to motorists. 

An article posted on the U.S. Army website describes black ice as a thin sheet made up of dark ice that forms on a roadway when drizzle or light rain impacts a surface that is colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or if droplets from highly cooled fog gather on overpasses and bridges. Unlike regular ice or white powered snow, black ice is difficult for motorists to detect while they are actually driving on a black iced road. Generally, black ice makes a road look wet when the outside temperature has dropped below freezing.

Black ice robs vehicles of much of their traction or even makes traction impossible. Impaired traction means a vehicle will have very little or even no ability to brake. Motorists may have high difficulty turning their vehicle in a desired direction, with a strong risk of the automobile skidding. Such loss of control can increase the potential for all sorts of traffic accidents, from collisions with another vehicle to careening off road and impacting an obstacle such as a tree or a telephone pole.

The dangers of black ice are such that ideally a motorist who suspects being on a black ice road ought to stop the vehicle. However, coming to a halt is not an option for all drivers. In such a case, the U.S. Army piece recommends drivers to slow their speed, be very light in braking, take slow, gradual turns, widen the distance to vehicles out in front, and to go slow in accelerating. 

This article is meant to inform readers about the topic of black ice and is not to be taken as legal advice.