Black ice on winter roads, especially roads on bridges and overpasses is directly responsible for car crashes that take the lives of over 550 people annually. The specific number of motor vehicle accidents where injuries and/or damages result is over 150,000. Those are just the statistics for Canada.
When the danger of black ice presents itself the correct reaction is to remove your foot off the gas and proceed to coast the vehicle through the section, slowing down your responses to prevent any quick or jerky motions as you complete a successful and safe slide. Going slow allows the driver to remain calm, lessening the possibility of harming others who may be passengers. It also insures that the tires have a greater chance of gripping the road better. Black ice has the ability to blend with the colour of the pavement on the road because when the sleet and melting snow refreeze and form ice, the ice is transparent. The clear ice appears as black as the road it is on, preventing a driver from recognizing the need for caution until he is up close. White ice allows light to get through while opaque ice doesn’t, it has what are called occlusions ( small imperfections in the ice ); both very noticeable to the eyes and therefore less of a hazard.
A prevention program has been intiated in the state of Minnesota which is proving worthwhile. Certain areas, not all, have installed an automated anti-icing system especially designed to start when conditions for the formation of black ice are present. The system is equipped with a tank to hold the anti-icing solution, nozzles embedded in the pavement, and sensors which read and monitor weather conditions. Road crews now have time to further treat the roads thus increasing driver safety and lowering the number of winter casualities.
Remember, a split second of distracted driving is all that it takes to cause a collision when iced roads are involve. When weather conditions are dangerous, roads become treacherous, extra care and caution are imperative. Keep headlights, windows, and mirrors clean and cleared of snow. Never use cruise control when driving on black ice or snow. Drive slowly and remain calm. At all costs resist urge to speed or rush. Maintain responsible and reasonable distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Extra space is added protection should a sudden or abrupt need to brake or stop be warranted.
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