Living in the Midwest, we are no strangers to snow and how it can make driving in the winter difficult. Icy roads are one of the top causes of car accidents in the United States and cause hundreds of deaths each year. The state of Illinois ranked fifth for winter weather-related driving fatalities, with an average of 27 winter-driving fatalities per year for the time period of 2013-2017. Chicago was the single biggest contributor to the number of fatalities. It is easy to lose control of your car when the roads are icy and is difficult to gain control again. There aren’t any fool proof ways to avoid black ice, but you can certainly protect yourself by understanding and knowing how to deal with the seasonal issue.
- Know where to expect black ice – Black ice generally forms when a light rain or drizzle falls on the road that is below freezing and is most common at night or in the early morning when temperatures are at their lowest. The Weather Channel suggests watching out for bridges and underpasses, road areas shaded by the sun or low-lying areas that may have standing water or run off from nearby melting snowbanks.
- Look for black ice (when you can) – If lighting conditions are right, a driver might be able to spot ice on the road. If most of the road you are driving on appears to be dull in color except for one section that appears to be shiny, odds are the glossy areas are ice. Using your headlights might help provide that visible shine.
- Check your tire tread – Using the penny test to check your tire treads. If you can see Lincoln’s head, get new tires. If not, you are good to go.
We’d like to share some tips to help you regain control of your car if you are sliding on black ice:
- Stay calm
- Don’t make sudden movement, you could only lose more control
- Do not hit the brakes
- Try keeping the steering wheel straight
- If you feel your car sliding right or left, make a gentle turn of the wheel in the SAME direction you feel you are going
- De-accelerate slowly by lifting your foot from the gas pedal
- If you can, shift into a lower gear
- If you still can’t gain control of your car, try to steer into an area with low impact like a snowbank or empty field
We hope this article helps you feel better prepared to brave the winter ahead. Remember R.C. Keller & Company are you auto insurance experts, that have been helping the residents of Schaumburg and Chicagoland since 1910. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.