Who's At Fault if Driving on Black Ice?

Here in the Tri-Cities, we get cold, foggy nights in the winter. According to some meteorological experts, black ice can form on a wet roadway in a few minutes when the temperature dips below freezing.

There are more than a million accidents caused by inclement weather every year on U.S. roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration. A substantial number of these accidents occur during the winter as a result of black ice, a dangerous road condition that is not easy to detect when you’re behind the wheel.

Motorists in the Tri-Cities are well acquainted with driving in snowy and icy conditions during the winter months. In the mornings and evenings especially, temperatures can plunge to below-freezing in Kennewick, Pasco, and other towns in the Tri-Cities.

These adverse weather conditions leave all of us vulnerable to accidents that can have grave results. Black ice is one of the most dangerous winter hazards for drivers. Even skilled motorists battle to keep their cars steady when there is black ice on the roads.

What Causes Black Ice?

When it rains or snows, black ice forms. If the temperature is cold enough to freeze either the rainwater or the water that forms after snow melts, ice will begin to form. This formed ice is not actually black but is transparent and appears the color of the surface area it is covering.

Dew or fog can also cause black ice to develop, however, this is less common.\

Who is at Fault in an Accident Caused by Black Ice?

As a rule, insurance companies hold drivers liable for car accidents, as opposed to weather conditions. It is expected that drivers will exercise caution and be extra careful when roads are slick due to black ice.

We, as drivers, should either try to avoid getting on the road during inclement weather or slow down and be cautious if the roads are covered with ice. The insurance company will probably assign blame to the motorist if an accident takes place. If two or more drivers share liability for a collision, law enforcement agencies, insurance adjusters, and, if necessary, accident reconstruction specialists, will assess the circumstances and determine the degree of fault for each party.

There may be extenuating circumstances that call for placing blame on entities other than drivers. For example, a municipality could be held liable for a traffic accident caused by black ice if it did not take reasonable steps to maintain a roadway. This includes ensuring water drains properly from the road and that an adequate amount of salt was put onto the roads to prevent black ice from forming. In the latter case, a maintenance company might also be found liable.

Safe Driving Recommendations During Black-Ice Conditions

The best idea for avoiding car accidents when roads are icy, is to not drive. But if you have to be on the road, here are some basic precautions to take when there is snow or black ice:

Winterize Your Vehicle: Frequently maintenance your car and be sure it is prepared for cold weather, and that includes snow or ice. Service your brakes, replace and inflate tires, etc.

Clean Your Headlights, Windows, and Mirrors Before Driving: By taking these glass-cleaning measures, you greatly increase your visibility so you can more easily spot black ice on the roads and make the necessary adjustments. Eliminate any snow residue on your headlights, windows, and mirrors before setting out to drive.

Drive Slowly: You should always adjust your speed when driving in icy conditions. As a rule, drive slower than the speed limit. This gives you the ability to avoid hitting other cars if someone’s car unexpectedly begins to skid or slide. Also, when you do slow down, gradually let go of the gas pedal. Make sure you shift to a lower gear because this gives your vehicle more control.

Create Ample Space Between You and Car in Front of You: Add extra space between your car and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you more time to adjust your speed and suddenly brake, if necessary, and avoid hitting other cars.

Do not Pump Brakes if You Have Antilock Brakes: If your car has antilock brakes, avoid pumping the brakes. The braking system will pump the brake without you doing anything. You will probably feel the pulsating vibrations from the brake pedal when the system engages. Do not lock the brakes when you come upon black ice as this can cause you to lose the ability to steer, which could lead to losing control of your vehicle.

Keep Steering Wheel Straight: When you are driving in icy conditions, firmly hold your steering wheel straight, as this will enable you to avoid swerving off the road or going in the direction of oncoming traffic. You also do not want to over-correct on your steering wheel – or over-compensate – if your vehicle begins to drift one way or another.

Look for Areas of Traction: Whenever the roads are icy, seek out areas with gravel, sand, or white snow. These areas offer your tires much-needed traction to get control of your car.

Look to Aultman Law for Personal Injury Cases Involving Black-Ice or Snow

dangers of black ice when driving If you ever have the unfortunate experience of being involved in a vehicle accident caused by snow or black ice, contact the legal offices at Aultman Law so you can receive exceptional representation for your personal injury case. Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Jeff Aultman will provide you with superior guidance all the way until your personal injury or accident case is resolved.

At Aultman Law, experience is the difference. Among the advantages, you enjoy when you let Jeff Aultman represent you are an excellent track record, unparalleled customer service, and transparent fees.

If you need help with a personal injury or accident case in Benton, Franklin, or surrounding counties, contact Jeff Aultman’s office today.