We all know when driving it’s important to “keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.” Even a split second of lost focus or a quick glance away can cause you to miss a hazard ahead. The lost time may prevent you from responding in time or properly to it.

But what if your eyes are intently focussed ahead on the road and you still don’t see an oncoming hazard? Unfortunately, this can happen in wintery weather when a virtually invisible layer of sleek, slippery and potentially dangerous ice forms on roadways.

In this blog post, I explain “black ice” and offer some tips to help stay safe on the road if it’s present. In a second blog post, I’ll walk you through what you need to know if you suffer a slip and fall on black ice.

What is Black Ice and How Does It Form?

Ice can form when the temperature dips to below freezing, especially between sunset and sunrise, or periods of thaw and freeze. Wet pavement can freeze to form a thin layer of very transparent ice. This wetness can be caused by previously formed snow and ice that melts and then refreezes, or moisture in the air that condenses into fog or dew.

While the ice itself is clear, black ice gets its name from the colour of the pavement often found beneath it. It’s highly transparent nature and thinness makes it extremely difficult to see.

Although black ice can form on any roadway, it’s most often found on bridges and overpasses because the air passing underneath the pavement and it can make the road colder, and in areas shaded by trees or other objects where the temperature may also be slightly cooler than the surrounding areas.

Driving On Black Ice

Since it’s difficult, if not impossible to see, you may not realize you’re driving on roadways with black ice until you’re passing over it.

If your vehicle begins to slide, resist the urge to hit the breaks. You may end up skidding more and losing control of your car. Instead, remove your foot from the accelerator to gain more control and to keep the vehicle moving straight into the slide. Do not break. Meanwhile, according to IceSafetyRoad.com, you should turn your front wheels in the same direction that the rear of the vehicle is sliding. This is the concept of “turning into the slide”. For example, “if the back of your car slides to the right, turn the wheel to the right. As the car straightens out, straighten the steering wheel”.

Unlike driving over snow, where there is still some traction, tires on black ice will have virtually no traction. Therefore, the best advice if you find yourself sliding on black ice is to remain calm and let the vehicle slow itself.

Take Precautions

Thermometers on newer motor vehicle models are a good way to gauge whether there’s a potential to encounter black ice on the road. A temperature at or near freezing should alert you to be extra cautious on the road.

Remember that these thermometers may not be entirely accurate if the sensors are near a heat source like the engine, if they are hit with precipitation that evaporates quickly, or if you have recently gone from a warmer urban area to cooler suburban or rural roads.

Checking the current temperatures and weather forecast on the news or a weather app before heading out on the road is always a good idea. Remember, just because you’ve taken time to monitor the road conditions doesn’t mean other drivers have. In these conditions, try to leave extra space between your car and surrounding vehicles and drive defensively.

Injured Due To An Accident on Black ice?

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by black ice, you may be eligible for Statutory Accidents Benefits if you sustained injuries, regardless of whether you were at fault. If another driver’s actions cause the accident, you may also be eligible to sue the other driver for your injuries and losses.

If the roadway was not properly maintained, you can also sue the municipality, but there is a very short 10 day notice period, required in writing, on your ability to sue. Accordingly, if you are involved in an accident where you suspect black ice or unsafe road conditions, you must contact a lawyer right away.

As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I would be pleased to speak to you about any accident you are involved in and the nature of your injuries, and the possibility of you obtaining compensation. For more information, please contact me by visiting my web profile Michael J. Henry, calling me at 416-361-0889, or emailing me at mjhenry@hshlawyers.com.

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Among the best in Canada

Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.