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Watch Out for Black Ice and Other Winter Road Hazards

I didn’t plan very well Monday morning. I woke up thinking about how much warmer this week is going to be than the weather we’ve endured as of late. I watched the weekly weather forecast on Sunday, and didn’t bother to check the temperature before I left the house. My only saving grace is the fact that I was running early for once.

It rained all day Sunday, but wasn’t unpleasant or stormy. Had I checked the temperature, I would have realized it was 29 degrees and everything that was wet from the rain would be icy. If I’d been thinking logically, I would have clicked on my car’s remote start as I was packing my lunch. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

I donned a light jacket and bopped out the front door intent on stopping for nice cup of coffee during my commute. I rounded the side of my house to my driveway and discovered my car covered in ice. I didn’t have time to remote start and wait for my defrosters to work their magic on their own at that point.

The doors took some serious tugging to open, and the windows required scraping. I started the car and defrosters while I scraped my side windows. My windshield was about a quarter the way clear by the time I finished the side windows, and my back glass was completely clean by the time I finished the windshield.

I still wasn’t running late, so I wasn’t particularly worried about anything. I hopped in my car and began my journey. I drove through Sonic for a quick breakfast burrito and Diet Coke because I didn’t have time for a creamy coffee house beverage. Traffic was moving fairly slowly, but I still wasn’t worried.

I had no problems in my travels until I took an exit ramp approximately halfway to work. I hit black ice as I turned on to the street and fishtailed a little. I’m an experienced ice and snow driver, so I was able to right my car with minimal effort. I hit a few more patches of black ice on that street, but the next road is the one that was problematic. It was littered with patches of black ice. I drove cautiously and arrived to work without incident.

Winter driving can be extremely treacherous. You not only must keep your own vehicle under control, but watch out for other drivers who might slip and slide, as well. The main problem with black ice is that you usually can’t see it. It’s clear and what you see is the pavement beneath the ice, so you may believe the road is simply wet. The danger is exacerbated if you commute in the dark like I do. You often don’t know where an ice patch is located until you hit it.

My best advice is to keep an eye on the temperature outside. Leave a little early to allow plenty of time for bad driving conditions. Always keep an ice scraper in your car even if you normally park in a garage. Who knows? You may need it at the grocery store. Better safe than sorry.  Keep a spare pair of gloves in the glove compartment. Yes, I’ve had to use mine. Keep a blanket in the backseat just in case your car breaks down and you need to keep warm while waiting for help. Carry a little something to eat and drink with you. Most importantly, please be an attentive driver and be safe.

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