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Was black ice a factor in your car wreck?

Chicago drivers are certainly used to driving in snowy conditions. They know to weatherize their vehicles with snow tires or chains before setting out during frigid Illinois winters.

But one aspect of inclement wintry weather can still catch drivers unaware -- black ice. This type of transparent ice forms a thin layer on roads and interstates and can send vehicles into lethal spins on bridges and overpasses. Learn how you can identify black ice and safely navigate when it is present.

The main reason why black ice is so dangerous is that it is so hard to spot. But there are tell-tale signs that accumulations of black ice will be likely.

When the mercury rises above 32 degrees and the sun begins to shine, snow starts melting, however briefly. Then, when the sun sets, roads and bridges refreeze with a sheen of black ice.

Sometimes snow doesn't even have to be involved. Rainy days that turn blustery cold later can create the same hazardous road conditions. It's even possible that black ice forms without snow or rain if dew accumulates or it is really foggy.

As stated above, because of their elevation, overpasses and bridges are frequent sources of black ice, but any road that gets little sun is subject to this sometimes deadly hazard.

How can drivers safely navigate stretches of road when black ice is present?

Below are some safety tips for driving through patches of black ice.

  • Decelerate. When driving on black ice, the less forward momentum you have going, the better.
  • Take your foot off of the brake. Many drivers instinctively want to slam on the brakes, but this is dangerous, as cars can go into a bad skid.
  • Straighten out the wheel. You will remain in better control of your vehicle on ice when the wheels are straight.

If you get into an accident involving black ice, if the roads were not properly maintained or marked, it could possibly be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party.

Source: The Weather Channel, "What Is Black Ice And Why Is It So Dangerous?," Brian Donegan, accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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