Although Tennessee does not get the snowfall amounts of the northern states, winter driving in this state can be very hazardous. Dangerous road ice is always a possibility regardless of snow amounts. Its formation only requires water and freezing pavement temperatures. Safe winter driving requires knowing where to expect ice as well as knowing how to drive on it.
Bridges and Overpasses: Man Made Ice Traps
Because the top and lower surfaces of bridges and overpasses are exposed to the air, a wet road surface on these structures will freeze over before the pavement that covers the ground. The ground soaks up heat that delays ice formation on the pavement on top of it. This means you can be driving on slightly wet roads at the speed limit and suddenly find yourself out of control when you cross a frozen bridge at highway speeds. Your only protection against this is anticipating this possibility every time you cross a bridge on cold days.
When to Expect Ice
- Light snow. Road crews sometimes do not respond to light snow or brief snow squalls because the quantity does not justify the effort. However, if the pavement is below freezing, the pressure of tires from car traffic melt the snow flakes into water which refreezes into ice.
- Drifting snow. The ice forms in the same way as light snowfall except that the snow is blown onto the road by the wind.
- Freezing rain and sleet. Freezing rain occurs as super-cooled rain droplets that freeze on contact with cold pavement and form a film of ice. Sleet is frozen before hitting the ground and can fuse into ice. Freezing rain and sleet often occur together.
- Puddles and wet road surfaces. Puddles and wet pavement during the day can freeze overnight or in shaded areas of the road. Overnight ice can linger well into the following morning, especially in shaded spots.
Tips for Handling Ice
- Anticipate ice. The worst accidents occur when motorists hit ice at a high speed because they were not expecting it. When temperatures get near freezing, you should anticipate ice on bridges, shaded spots, overnight, and early in the day.
- Don’t slam the brakes. This will lock up the wheels causing loss of control.
- Drive straight through black ice. Keep your steering wheel pointing straight ahead and allow your car to cross a black ice patch in a straight line. Do not brake, turn, or accelerate.
- Turn into your slide. When sliding, turn your front wheels in the same direction as the slide.
- Drive slowly. Controlling your car at higher speeds is impossible because the traction isn’t there.
If you were injured in an accident because of another motorist, get in touch with experienced Chattanooga car accident lawyers who can advise you on your options. Contact us today for a free consultation.