Driving On Icy Roads

Oct 20

Weather conditions can make driving very dangerous. One of the most dangerous conditions involves driving on icy roads. They are one of the most unsuspecting threats you may face during the winter. The ice on the road is not always noticeable. You won’t notice it until you’ve lost the traction in your tires. If you suffer an injury on icy roads because of someone else, be sure to speak to a car accident attorney from Blackburn Romey as soon as possible.


What Is Black Ice?

Black ice is hidden ice that has frozen on the road. In some cases, the ice has melted and frozen again. Black ice is dangerous because it blends with the roads. It looks like the rest of the pavement; even if you take a closer look, you’ll notice the clear, sheen look. Drivers who don’t take the necessary precautions can lose control of their vehicles when driving on black ice.


How to prepare for icy roads

Fortunately, there are safety precautions that you can take to make sure that you are safe for the winter. When driving on icy roads, there are four parts of your car that you want to prioritize: your brakes, steering wheel, acceleration, and gears. The better you take care of these items, the safer you’ll be on the roads.

Take advantage of using winter tires

You want to invest in some powerful winter tires. Before it gets colder, check your tires’ tread and replace them if necessary. In addition to installing winter tires, you want to regularly make sure your tires are filled. Low air pressure can put your vehicle in danger.

During the winter season, the air in your tires can lose pressure because of the change in weather. That is why you want to regularly check your tire pressure.

If you’re unsure when the tread on your tires needs to be replaced, use the “Penny Test.” Take a penny and place it next to the tread groove in your tire. Place it into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing you, and continue to do so until the top of Lincoln’s head is no longer visible. You may need new tires if you can see Lincoln’s entire head while it’s in the groove.

Antifreeze and oil

Another thing you want to do is change your antifreeze and oil. Your tires aren’t the only parts of your car affected by the cold weather. Many car problems can be solved if drivers regularly maintain their vehicles.

Replace old and worn windshield wipers

You also want to check your windshield wipers and wiper fluid before it becomes cold outside. Keeping your windshield wipers up-to-date and fluid-filled will help you maintain visibility while driving.

Check the life of your battery

You also want to make sure that your battery is in great condition. The last thing you want to do is have your car break down in the middle of a snowstorm. Battery power drops during low temperatures. The cold weather requires more battery power to be used by gasoline and diesel engines.

Electric cars aren’t any better. Their driving range is reduced because of the cold weather.

That’s why you want to have your car checked by a mechanic to see if any repairs need to be done.

Prepare a winter kit

Now that you’ve had the necessary vehicle repairs, you want to prepare a winter kit. In case of an emergency, while driving, you want to keep certain items in your trunk. These items include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Chains
  • Flashlights
  • Blankets
  • Snow shovel or ice scraper
  • Charger (wireless if you can)
  • Necessary medications
  • Kitty litter
  • Extra food and water


Driving safely on icy roads

Driving on snowy or icy roads is not the time to speed. You want to make sure that you drive at a slower speed than you are used to and at a manageable speed. A manageable speed is a speed that allows you to react safely to the many adjustments on the road.

Increasing your following distance

Another action you want to avoid is tailgating. Like speed, one of the worst things you can do while driving on icy roads is follow too closely behind someone.

If that driver loses control of their vehicle and has to stop, you don’t have enough time to react before hitting them from the rear.

You want to increase your following distance as much as possible. Two or three cars ahead is a good, recommended distance, but the weather conditions may require you to increase that distance for safety.

Avoid driving behind snow plows

Another danger you want to avoid is driving behind a snowplow. Snowplows are vehicles that are designed to travel slowly. They make wide turns and frequently enter and exit the road.

If you get hit by one of these machines, it could cause serious damage to your car. You must practice caution when driving behind or next to a snowplow. Make sure to maintain a safe following distance while driving behind. When passing a snowplow, use caution.

Plan your route before you leave

Before hitting the road, check the local weather and warnings. Many GPS systems issue notifications about delays while traveling. These delays can include road closures, accidents, or dangerous weather conditions. Consider alternative routes you can take or leave early to avoid the icy roads. The more prepared you are for the changes on your route, the better.

Smooth acceleration

You want to gently accelerate your car when you are actually driving on icy roads. If possible, make sure to shift to a higher gear.

Shifting from first gear to second gear may reduce the chances of the wheels slipping. Make sure you don’t panic, and give yourself enough time to brake and steer.

You also want to take extra precautions while driving up a hill. Make sure to leave plenty of room for the car in front of you to maintain a steady speed. When traveling down a hill, you want to make sure you’re using low gear to avoid sudden braking.

Driving around a curve

Another situation where you want to practice extra precaution is driving around a curve. You want to make sure that you’re starting to brake before you turn your steering wheel when you’re approaching a curve.

If you start to lose your car’s grip, don’t panic. Just ease off the accelerator and keep your wheels facing in the direction you want them to travel in. If you feel the car start to skid, just steer gently in the direction the car is traveling. If you feel the rear of your car skidding to the right, steer to the right. Whatever you do, don’t take your hands off of the steering wheel. You also want to avoid slamming on the brakes.

Look for signs of black ice

Even though black ice is hard to see in the dark, there are times when the lighting is right that you can notice it. You can notice black ice in the smooth, glossy sheets around the pavement.

The conditions of the road also help to make black ice more noticeable. If the roads are a dull color, but you see a patch of road that looks shiny, that’s an indication of black ice. Detecting black ice is easier during dawn and daylight hours.

Safely moving off of the road

If you do end up moving off the road, make sure to steer the car in the direction you want it to go. If you can, steer it into a safe location, like an area with traction. Snow-covered areas are considered areas with traction.

Once it is safe to do so, check the status of your car and wait somewhere safe near your car. That is ideal if there’s a nearby rest stop or gas station. Waiting at a safe location can help calm your nerves and give you a chance to recover.


Who Is At Fault For Accidents On Icy Roads?

Even though icy roads are considered poor weather conditions, there are occasions when a party can be held liable for the icy road conditions. Government agencies and plowing companies are responsible for designing and maintaining safe roadways. Individual drivers have a responsibility to drive safely according to the weather conditions. When someone doesn’t fulfill their responsibility, they may be liable for causing your personal injury.


Contact an Indiana car accident attorney today

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in an accident on an icy road, call the Indiana car accident attorneys at Blackburn Romey as soon as possible. You can schedule a free consultation using our contact form.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.