New York winters bring a mixed bag of snow, rain and fluctuating temperatures that cause days-long cycles of freezing, thawing and refreezing. Those are ideal conditions for the formation of dangerous black ice — the clear, thin coating of ice that covers roadways and sidewalks and makes driving and walking treacherous. Black ice can be so thin that you can see the road or sidewalk through it and not even realize the ice is there until your car is skidding or, as a pedestrian, you’re falling to the ground.

Black ice frequently forms overnight, when warmer daytime temperatures that led to snow melting give way to colder nighttime air that causes the meltwater to refreeze. Tunnels, bridges and shaded roadways and sidewalks are all places where black ice is likely to form.

When driving in New York’s winter weather, keep these tips in mind to help minimize the chances that you’ll be involved in a black ice-related auto accident:

  • Slow down — Far too many people fail to adjust their speed to winter conditions. Accidents are more likely to happen when fast-moving cars hit a patch of black ice.
  • Consider winter tires — Certain tires are manufactured specifically for colder temperatures and can provide your vehicle with extra traction when the roads are slick.
  • Maintain your vehicle — Winter puts extra stress on engines and other systems, so make sure your vehicle is in good condition before you head out. Have a trusted mechanic check tire wear, fluids, wiper blades, brakes and other components.

Pedestrians, too, can be injured on black ice. Slip-and-falls are common and often lead to serious injuries. Here are some safety tips for New Yorkers on foot:

  • Get the right footwear — Boots or other shoes with good traction are a must for New York winters.
  • Watch your step — Black ice is hard to see, and that is all the more reason to keep an eye out for it. Look a few steps ahead and if you see a slick spot, avoid it.
  • Alert property managers of slick conditions — Managers of retail stores and other commercial premises have a legal duty to keep their premises safe, and that includes sidewalks and parking lots immediately adjacent. But weather changes quickly in New York, so managers may not realize a slippery condition has recently formed outside. Alerting them can help prevent harm to other pedestrians.

No matter how much care you take, accidents can still happen through no fault of your own. If you were hurt in a black ice-related car crash or slip-and-fall, you may be entitled to compensation. The Licatesi Law Group, LLP can evaluate the situation and take appropriate action. For a free consultation with our Uniondale and Brooklyn injury attorneys, please call 516-227-2662 or contact us online.