According to KUTV, there was a crash involving 14 cars on I-15 heading northbound in Springville on Tuesday morning. Local authorities attributed the crash to black ice. According to one official, “People just kept sliding into each other.” The resulting crash made police close the three lanes of traffic. This closure left only one lane open for traffic. The northbound on-ramp was also shut down. The lanes opened again around 9:40 a.m.
Black ice is a hard-to-spot clear layer of ice. It is often called black ice because of its transparent nature when on the road, making it difficult to see compared to snow, frozen slush, or other types of ice. According to Julie Lee, the Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety told Accuweather.com, “The biggest danger [with black ice] is that you are at the mercy of your vehicle and the ice until your car passes over it.” According to the American Meteorological Society Glossary, black ice forms “when light rain or drizzle falls on a road surface that is at a temperature below [32 degrees F].” These conditions make Utah a prime location for black ice following any cold storm where the snowfall is wet, and the temperature of roads is cold. Driving when there is black ice on the roads is especially dangerous because the patches can form unpredictably, so drivers don’t know where they are.
Every year, many people are affected by black ice on roads. So what can you do about black ice? First of all, as an article in the New York Times points out, heavily populated roads are less likely to develop black ice compared with roads that are used less frequently. Be especially vigilant when driving on bridges, overpasses, and viaducts because they are exposed on top and bottom allowing a faster cooling. These conditions make these areas particularly conducive to black ice.
According to Sam Schwartz, the traffic commissioner for New York City from 1982-1986, if your car starts to slide, take your foot off the gas. Don’t hit the brakes or turn the steering wheel, because that can make things worse. Also, just because you have anti-lock brakes, don’t feel like you won’t be affected. The best thing to do is drive slowly. “Just be patient, you may think it’s a pain to be behind a slow driver, but just take it slow, and you’ll get there alive.”