by Stacy Naaktegboren
The sun has just gone down and the rain clouds are now just moving through the town as though they weren’t there at all. The worst time to drive is when the sun has just gone down. It isn’t sunny out but it isn’t dark out, its dusk and the pupils don’t know how to dilate to the odd light. It is a normal day, just like any day and you are heading home from a long day at work. The drive is just like any drive home and as you turn onto the last long road to your house you hear screeching noises. Lights that are supposed to be on the other side of the street are now heading right toward you. One side of your car is a giant freezing lake, the other a skidding car. You slam on the breaks and swerve towards the skidding car. Just barley missing bumpers you come to a halt and hear the other car smash into the light pole.
Black ice is a common cause of accidents. Black ice is caused when it rains or when snow melts and freezes again. The part that makes it invisible is that it freezes so quickly, air bubbles aren’t able to be trapped beneath. What causes drivers to have accidents on black ice is their inability to see the ice. Black ice looks just like water on a street. Unfortunately unlike snow or regular ice, it doesn’t take a quick turn or a too fast stop to lose control of your vehicle. Any kind of attention loss can cause one to lose control on black ice. One can be on a flat strait road and just by changing lanes you can slide on ice and lose control. Black ice isn’t the number one cause of car accidents but ice in general is a major cause of accidents during the winter. There isn’t any information about the number of accidents caused each year by black ice but a simple search on the internet with the words black ice, there’s a whole list of accidents on the internet all with including the words black ice. It isn’t stated anywhere but I would say that during the winter black ice accidents are ranked in the top three.
Other than not being able to see black ice, what makes it so dangerously confusing to anyone who has had and accident or an investigator looking into the cause of an accident. Black ice is so thin that it doesn’t take long for it to freeze but it also doesn’t take long for it to melt. Investigations can go on forever all because by the time the police show up, the ice melted. If there are survivors all they can say is they lost control of their vehicle. Without evidence as to what happened it takes some time for the investigators to figure out what the loss of control was caused by.
Most people know someone who has been in a vehicle accident due to black ice and they hear the stories. A chilly night after a snowstorm, or rainstorm, and they randomly lost control of their car and were skidding out of control. Unfortunately, some people know those who have lost their lives due to black ice. There are ways to help keep you and others safe in a black ice situation.
If there is any type of condensation on the street and the temperature has dropped quickly, the number one suggestion is to slow down. If you need to go out, give yourself extra time so you don’t have to rush. If you rush you could be careless and find yourself spinning out of control. This is something you’ve heard your mother say over and over again, but by wearing a seat belt the chances of you being severely hurt in an accident drop dramatically. It doesn’t matter what kind of accident you are in, if it deals with ice, or a traffic light, if you are wearing your seatbelt the chances of you coming out of a crash with hardly any injuries are very high. If you feel yourself sliding or losing control of the vehicle don’t slam on the breaks, or turn the wheel quickly in the other direction. By doing so you only make matters worse, by slamming on your breaks you now have no control over the speed of your vehicle and are now controlled by the speed of the ice. By turning to gain control you could over correct your vehicle and send it spinning in a different direction. Instead, slowly pump the breaks and slightly turn your wheels in the direction your car is moving. Once you’ve become straight again put your wheels straight so as to not continue in the other direction. If this is done properly and you keep your emotions under control, you should be fine. The worst thing you can do in an icy situation is panic that causes errors and increases the chances of something going wrong.
Spinning out of control in the dark can be a very scary situation but with a few cautious precautions and some smart driving, you can prevent that situation. Remember black ice can be created quickly and will look just like the surface it has frozen on. Usually that is the black asphalt which is why it is called black ice. This is because the ice freezes quickly and doesn’t give time for air bubbles to become trapped inside. If you are going out at a time when black ice may be present, drive slowly, don’t take any chances and with any car situation, always buckle your seat belt.