Black ice on the roads was cited as a factor in a number of central Maine car accidents recently, though thankfully, no serious personal injuries were reported. In a single icy morning, the dispatch center for Kennebec County and Somerset County reported 85 reports of crashes and cars that had veered off the roadway. Calls started around 3:30 a.m., and within the hour, authorities on site were informing dispatch and other emergency responders about the perilous black ice that coated Interstate 95 and surrounding areas. One official was quoted as saying the interstate “looks like a skating rink.” Officials did choose to close the Messalonskee Bridge for a time after four crashes happened back-to-back, as reported by CentralMaine.com.
Although weather certainly can be a factor in any car accident, it’s important to point out that even the worst road conditions do not relieve motorists of their duty of care to use reasonable caution in their operation of a motor vehicle. That means exercising constant vigilance when conditions are right for hazards like black ice. It means slowing to a safer speed and avoiding distractions and maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles ahead of you. Failure to do so can be grounds to assert negligence when it results in a collision.
What is Black Ice?
Black ice is extremely dangerous, and it’s commonly seen on Maine roadways this time of year, when temperatures drop below freezing.
As noted by The Weather Channel, black ice is a thin coat of ice on pavement that is extremely transparent. Because it’s so thin, it’s almost impossible for drivers to see. It’s not actually “black,” but it appears that way due to the color of the pavement on which it forms.
Black ice usually forms overnight or in the early morning hours. During the day, temperatures may rise slightly above freezing, with the sun is out during the day, melting any snow existing on road surfaces. Rain too could contribute to wet roads. However at night, when the temperature drops below freezing once again, if the ground is still wet, black ice can develop on those paved surfaces due to the refreezing. Dew or fog can also result in the formation of black ice if the temperature drops below freezing.
While it can technically form on any surfaces where there is moisture and temperatures are cold enough, practically speaking on roads we see it most often on bridges or overpasses or under roads that are shaded by trees or other large objects.
Why is Black Ice So Dangerous?
Aside from being extremely slippery, the danger of black ice is owed largely to the fact that it catches most motorists by surprise. Drivers can’t see it and may not realize they’re driving over it until they start sliding.
As our Bangor car accident attorneys know, this is one reason drivers have to use extra caution anytime they are driving in the winter. Just because black ice exists or was a contributing factor in the crash does not absolve drivers of responsibility to use reasonable care. Determining liability in these cases, though, will likely require careful investigation and analysis of witness reports, physical evidence, photographic evidence and crash reports. It’s important to discuss your options with an experienced injury attorney.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Black ice cited in spate of crashes Friday morning on central Maine roads, Nov. 17, 2017, By Doug Harlow, CentralMaine.com
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