Winter weather brings with it ice, and ice is slippery business, especially when it is the kind you can’t see: Black Ice. Despite the name, black ice is in fact ice that forms to be completely clear. Because black ice allows you to see roads and sidewalks under it, it can be difficult to know when you are about to walk or drive on it. It is also much slippier than normal ice and this, combined with the surprise of losing footing and traction, leads to serious falls and auto accidents. With winter just beginning, it’s important to know how to avoid the hazard of ice.
Safety Tips For Dealing With Black Ice
In this article, we’re looking at some tips to keep you safe when the temperature drops.
- USE PROPER FOOTWEAR
Wear shoes that fit well and that have ample grip and traction. If your shoes have poor traction, it can be possible to enhance the traction with cleats. But if your shoes are worn flat on the soles they will not grip will and you will slide on any ice- especially black ice.
- DO THE SHUFFLE
Walk like a penguin if you are out an about in an area that seems prone to ice or that has not been tended to in a while. Shuffle your feet to avoid slipping, and use handrails whenever possible. Maintain as much contact with the ground as possible to keep your balance.
- CHECK WALKWAYS
Shovel snow off of your driveway as often as you can to reduce snow melt, and use sand to create traction for sidewalks and pathways on your property. Use salt to keep high traffic walkways ice free and make sure stairs have hand rails clear and easily reached.
When you find an area on your property that has black ice, let people know by posting warning signs or caution tape. If you’re walking with others, tell them about slippery areas you find up ahead. And for passengers in a vehicle, let the driver know if you see ice ahead.
- KNOW BLACK ICE AREAS
Black Ice forms under unique situations which leads to its clear and super slippery features. It forms when ice or snow melts and then refreezes. When temperatures rise and then suddenly drop, you can expect black ice on the road. These areas require extra caution.
- HAVE THE RIGHT TIRES
Black ice can be dangerous and even deadly when it occurs on the road. There are specially designed snow and ice tires that can be used to increase traction, so make sure that you have the right tires on your vehicle. Winter tires will provide the best grip on icy days.
- LEARN HOW TO REACT
Anyone who lives in a snow and ice prone area needs to learn how to handle your car if you do hit black ice. It is also important to know how to fall without severe injury if you hit back ice while you are out and about. Your reaction will have a big impact on the outcome.
What Causes Black Ice?
If the temperature rises above freezing or the sun comes out during the day, any snow on the ground will slowly melt and cause road surfaces to become wet. If it rains, that could also lead to wet roadways with some puddles. If the temperature then drops below freezing while the ground is still wet, black ice will likely form on paved surfaces due to the refreezing. Black ice can also form if moisture in the air condenses and forms dew or fog, and then the temperature drops below freezing. Common locations to find black ice include bridges, overpasses and spots on the road shaded by trees or other objects. Bridges and overpasses are prone to black ice because cold air is able to flow underneath the road surface, since it is elevated, therefore lowering the pavement temperature. Shaded spots on the road are prone since they receive less warmth from the sun during the day.
How Does black ice Affect Your Claim?
Whether the ice that lead to a fall or auto accident is regular ice or black ice can actually have a huge impact on any slip and fall accident claim that you may be trying to win. Ice in plain sight will be seen by most judges as an obvious and avoidable danger that the plaintiff should have seen and taken steps to avoid or minimize slip and fall risks. However, since black ice is so difficult to see, it’s hard to say the plaintiff should have known to avoid the area.
Black Ice makes slip and fall cases even more complicated because by the same token you can argue that there is little the victim could have done to avoid the black ice, you could also argue that there is little the property owner could be responsible for it they didn’t know the ice was there. However, in many cases like this, the court has ruled that it was the property owner’s responsibility to inspect more carefully, and spots where black ice is likely to form should be salted thoroughly even on days when the ice cannot be seen. Similar situations can also occur when the ice forms on the roads- if drivers cannot see it they do not know to slow down and use extra caution, but by the same token maintenance crews and property owners might not know the area needs additional salt and sand applications.
This is not always the case so if you have a slip and fall or auto accident case that involved black ice then you need professional legal help from attorneys who have worked similar cases in the past. Give us a call and let our team of legal professionals help you with your personal injury case and let us help you fight against the devastating effects of black ice. We offer a free, no-obligation case review, and do not charge any upfront fees.