The Dangers of Icy Roads

Barely a week into 2011, ice is causing dangerous conditions on Colorado roads, unfortunately resulting in car accidents, and at least one fatality. Samantha Gaunt, a 17-year-old resident of Canon City, was killed on January 2, when her car hit an icy patch on the road, and collided with a tree. Gaunt died instantly of head and neck injuries. Roads are more dangerous this time of year, even when there’s no snow on the ground. When temperatures drop, moisture on the roadways will freeze, causing the phenomenon known as “black ice.” The sheet of ice is so thin on the asphalt that it’s transparent, and in many case, unseen by drivers until it’s too late. There are some things you can do to avoid the dangers of icy roads.

Maintain Your Vehicle Properly

This goes for any time of year, but especially when it’s icy or there’s an increased probability of snow, it’s imperative that your brakes work properly, and that your tires are in good condition. If the weather isn’t bad enough to require chains on the tires, the tread should at least be deep enough to keep from sliding on snow and ice. Also make sure you keep an ice scraper in your car, and that defrosters are in good working order to maintain visibility.

Obey the Speed Limit

In fact, you may even want to drive a few miles under the posted speed limit when there’s a danger of ice on the roads. Driving more slowly gives you more reaction time should your car hit an icy patch. Even if you’re the only driver on the road, there is still a danger of running into trees, telephone poles, and even buildings if you’re going too fast. It may take you longer to get where you’re going, but avoiding a car accident and getting there are the important things.

Brake Gently and Early

When approaching intersections or turns, begin applying the brakes further out than you normally would. Avoid slamming on the brakes. This just increases the probability and danger of skidding on the ice and colliding with something, or someone.

Turn Into the Skid

If your car does start to skid on the road, try to stay calm, and remember to turn into the skid. Depending on whether you have a front- or rear-wheel-drive vehicle, you will have to either brake or accelerate gently.

Don’t Use Cruise Control

Retain as much control over your vehicle and its acceleration as possible when roads are icy. Sometimes simply taking your foot off the gas pedal