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Ice on asphalt

Who is Liable for a Crash Caused by Black Ice?

If you’ve been a Texas driver for at least a year, then you know that the colder, stormier seasons can bring freezing weather. As the temperature drops, black ice can form on the roads, causing countless car accidents. Black ice is especially problematic on highways that cross rivers or that are situated higher in the air, where temperatures stay low, and ice is more likely to form.

When black ice strikes and a driver loses control of their vehicle, can they be blamed for the car accident that ensues? Or is black ice purely a “force of nature” that puts liability on no one?

As much as it might seem fair to blame the black ice, it cannot be liable for an accident. That would be like holding alcohol liable for a drunk driving accident, or a smartphone liable for a distracted driving accident. Instead, whichever driver lost control of their car is the one who will likely be named liable for a black ice-related crash.

Every driver has the responsibility to drive safely, which means maintaining control of their vehicle at all times. If there is inclement weather, then each driver has to decide to either head out into it or stay put. With all of this in mind, it becomes even clearer why a driver can be held liable for crashing while driving over black ice.

How to Drive on Black Ice

Black ice is so problematic because it is basically invisible. It is a thin layer of ice that forms on black asphalt, so it doesn’t glisten much when the sun or headlights hit it. You might be driving when you encounter black ice suddenly. What do you do to stay safe?

When driving on black ice, keep these hints in mind:

  • Doing less is often more when driving on black ice. Try not to make any unnecessary adjustments because every acceleration, deceleration, and turn of the wheel could be what causes you to skid uncontrollably.
  • Do not hit the brakes because they are likely to cause your wheels to spin and bounce on the ice, rather than slow you down. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator, and let your car naturally decelerate.
  • Shift to a lower gear if you can, which usually increases your control of the vehicle.
  • Attempt to keep the steering wheel straight, so your car heads straight as you intended.
  • If your car begins to slide, then gently steer the wheel in the same direction as the slide.
  • If your car is about to leave the road, then try to steer away from traffic and onto the shoulder.
For more information about safe driving on black ice, you can click here to view a full PDF file from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Forest Service. To get help after a car accident in Waco that was caused by a driver who lost control on black ice, contact the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C.
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