Black Ice Accidents Can Often Be Avoided
Black ice can present significant risks in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and other cold-weather states. Earlier this winter, black ice caused multiple local motor vehicle accidents in a single morning. These included a 10-car pile up on 146 at the Mass Pike, an overturned vehicle in Shrewsbury, and several crashes on 495.
Black ice is dangerous enough that the National Weather Service issues black ice warnings, just as it warns of impending blizzards, hurricanes, and other dangerous weather conditions.
Because black ice and other winter weather conditions are naturally hazardous, it is easy to think of these collisions as being nobody’s fault, or acts of God. However, many black ice accidents can be avoided. And that means that one or more parties may be liable for damages caused in a black ice accident.
What is Black Ice?
Black ice is a thin, transparent coating of ice. It’s called “black ice” because it is often invisible, or nearly invisible, on blacktop roads. That makes it even more dangerous than other ice on the road, because drivers can hit a patch of black ice unexpectedly.
However, there are precautions any driver can take to reduce the risk of a black ice accident.
Avoiding Black Ice Accidents
During daylight hours, you can often spot black ice if you are keeping a close look out. The area of the road covered in black ice will typically be shiny or glossy. Most often, you will find black ice in places like shaded sections of the road and bridges. However, it is possible for black ice to appear anywhere so it’s important to stay vigilant during the winter, especially when you have heard that black ice is present. Many drivers who aren’t consciously thinking about black ice mistake this shine for a wet spot in the road, so fail to respond appropriately.
At night, it may be very difficult to differentiate black ice patches from clear roadways. The best way to avoid black ice accidents is to reduce your speed, increase the distance between vehicles, and pay close attention on the road. If you do hit a patch of black ice, don’t slam on the brakes. However, you will want to take your foot off the accelerator.
Liability for Black Ice Accidents
With these precautions in mind, you can see how a negligent driver can contribute to, or even cause, a black ice accident. For instance, a driver who is closely following the vehicle in front of him when he hits a patch of black ice is more likely to collide with that other driver than one who was maintaining a safe distance given the road conditions. Similarly, a driver who is speeding or driving too fast for conditions is more likely to hit a patch of black ice unexpectedly, will have less time to react, and may have fewer options for regaining control of the vehicle.
If you have been injured in a black ice automobile accident that could have been avoided if the other driver had been more vigilant, kept more of a buffer between vehicles, or reduced speed to accommodate weather conditions, you may be entitled to compensation.
Your best next step is to speak with an experienced car accident attorney. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick helps people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire who have been injured in car accidents through someone else’s fault. He offers free consultations to allow you to gather the information you need to make good decisions about your next steps. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this site.
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