According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 116,000 injuries and 1,300 fatalities occur in auto accidents on snowy or icy roads each year. A common culprit in many of these accidents is "black ice," a transparent glaze that forms without bubbles, allowing it to easily blend into the surface of the road.
Decrease your chances of injury this winter by learning more about this slippery hazard.
Recognize Icy Conditions
Black ice is most likely to form when there is a sudden temperature drop such as in the early morning and evening hours. Common problem areas are bridges, overpasses and shaded areas of the road. These areas have much colder surfaces that rapidly freeze when air moisture makes contact—especially if they're near lakes or rivers.
Detect Warning Signs
When favorable conditions are present, be on high alert. Black ice looks a lot like wet blacktop. Look for these warning signs:
- Absence of water spray on a seemingly wet road
- Cars suddenly swerving or skidding
- Brake lights ahead
- Cars or tire tracks in the ditch
- Shiny surfaces next to a dull black
Stay Calm on Black Ice
If you're caught on black ice, use these tips to maneuver past the problem area:
- Do nothing: Avoid making sudden moves or turning the wheel. Smoothly lift your foot off the accelerator and glide across the ice in a straight line until you find traction.
- Shift: If possible, slowly shift to a lower gear for added control.
- Brake wisely: If you begin to skid, firmly press on your brakes to activate the anti-lock brake system (ABS). Or, if you don't have ABS, pump the brakes gently.
- Avoid spinout: If your front end is sliding, steer in the opposite direction of the skid; if the back end is sliding, steer in the same direction.
- Look toward where you want to go: Avoid looking where you think you might crash—you might inadvertently veer the car in that direction.
Avoid the Potential for Accidents
To stay safer on the road this winter—in a variety of conditions—exercise these preventive measures:
- Check road conditions before you travel.
- Slow down and don't tailgate.
- Never use cruise control when road conditions are uncertain or changing.
- Use snow tires.
- Don't rely on all-wheel drive for ice—it won't help you gain traction.
State Farm® offers these additional tips forsurviving winter driving
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.
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