Black Ice: A Dangerous Winter Hazard

December 19, 2016

Icy roadways contribute to nearly 152,000 motor vehicle crashes per year, according to a 10 year analysis of weather-related accidents between 2005 to 2014 conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.warmer, wetter winters forecasted

In a 2014 blog, Erie Insurance explained how black ice forms:

Sudden changes in temperature–which are common after winter storms–often cause snow to melt onto roadways and create black ice.

Black ice can also form when snow or light rain falls on still-frozen concrete, turning it to ice upon contact. This quick freezing is what gives black ice its signature thin layer.

Black ice gets its name because the narrowness of the ice makes it practically invisible once it’s frozen against the pavement. This invisibility is what makes black ice one of the most dangerous surfaces for drivers.

Black ice most often forms in the early morning hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Experts say that it takes nine times the average distance to stop a car on black ice, according to Erie Insurance.

The Department of Risk Management Services in Maine offers some tips to watch out for black ice:

  • Pavement that looks dark, wet or like new asphalt.
  • Low-lying areas that may have standing water or run off from nearby melting snow banks or puddles.
  • Bridges and underpasses.
  • Any road areas which are shaded from the sun.
  • Any time the temperature is below 40 degrees F.
  • Vehicles that have slid off the road under any of the above conditions.

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