Winter has officially arrived in Pennsylvania. With winter comes
cold weather, which can often lead to car accidents. In Philadelphia, inclement
weather conditions such as snow, sleet and icy rain are leading factors of
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the weather can have a significant impact on driver safety. On average, there are 219,942 car accidents each year in the United States due to snow and sleet. Snowy or slushy pavement causes an average of 186,076 crashes annually. Across the country, icy pavement leads to 156,164 car accidents — along with an average of 41,860 people injured and 521 people killed.
As demonstrated by these statistics, winter weather conditions
are responsible for a high number of car accidents, injuries and fatalities
each year. This includes a condition that is relatively common throughout the
Philadelphia region: icy streets.
While any type of ice buildup on our roadways can be challenging,
one of the most difficult weather conditions that we deal with in the
Philadelphia region is black ice. That is because it this type of ice is
incredibly difficult to see, so drivers do not spot it until it is too late —
leading to accidents.
Causes of Black Ice
ice forms most frequently when the air is at or below 32 degrees and
it is raining. The comparatively low ground temperature causes the rain to
freeze when it hits the ground, which creates the ice. Alternatively, sleet and
melting snow that runs onto roadways can also cause black ice.
Black ice gets its name because it is so thin that it is
reflective, and typically reflects the color of the road. Although it is called
black ice, it is actually clear.
As a result, drivers pass over black ice without realizing that the conditions
are icy. This can lead to drivers spinning out of control or even crashing.
How to Spot Black Ice
One of the biggest challenges of driving in the Philadelphia
metro region in winter is that it is very difficult to spot dangers like black
ice. Understanding how and when black ice typically forms can help you avoid
these patches of ice — and keep you safe on the roadways.
Many of us rely on the thermometer built into our cars to keep us
up-to-date on the weather and road conditions. Yet doing so will likely give
you a false sense of security. While our car thermometers are helpful, they are
not necessarily accurate. The best way to know if the roads may be icy,
according to a Philadelphia
car accident attorney, is to check the weather before you head out
Black ice typically forms between sunset and sunrise, when
temperatures are usually at their lowest. This can make your morning commute
the riskiest time for black ice. When you are driving, watch for patches of
pavement that appear dark and glossy. If the pavement is otherwise dry, those
patches are likely black ice.
Black ice most commonly appears in shaded or tree-covered parts
of driveways or roads, on bridges or overpasses. If you do encounter black ice,
remain calm and allow your vehicle to pass over it without panicking.
Preventing Black Ice Accidents
Black ice accidents can be hard to prevent when it is so
challenging to see it on the road. However, there are certain steps that you
can take to minimize the likelihood of being involved in a Philadelphia car
accident involving black ice.
First, always leave a cushion of at least 5 seconds between your
vehicle and the vehicle in front of yours. It takes twice as long to stop on
black ice as on dry pavement, so giving yourself this extra time will help to
prevent an accident.
Second, if you do hit black ice, hold your steering wheel steady.
Never hit the brakes to avoid skidding.
Third, be careful in the early morning, such as during your
commute, when the air temperature tends to rise faster than the pavement
temperature. This is prime time for black ice formation.
Fourth, watch for black ice on bridges, overpasses, and in
tunnels. The lower temperatures in these structures may allow for black ice to
form — and we have many bridges and overpasses in and around Philadelphia.
Fifth, if you feel your car sliding on black ice, do not
overcorrect your steering. Instead, gently turn your steering wheel into the
direction that you are skidding as you ease off the accelerator. That will help
you get your car back on track — and avoid an accident.
Work with a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney
The lawyers of Solnick & Associates are here for victims of
car accidents. We have devoted our practice to helping clients who have been
injured due to the negligence of others. We work collaboratively with our
clients to help them achieve their goals, giving them peace of mind in knowing
that they can focus on their recovery while we handle the legal process.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, we can help. We offer
free initial consultations to all prospective clients so that you can
understand your rights and options. To learn more or to schedule an appointment
with a Philadelphia
car accident attorney, contact our office today at 877-415-6495 or
via our online portal.