WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y – As a cold spell continues to grip the East Coast, Westchester County motorists are being warned to slow down and take extra precaution as black ice continues to build up on roadways.
That could be the case early this week as temperatures start the day hovering around the freezing mark after a Sunday that saw mixed precipitation resulting in dangerous road conditions followed by heavy rains later in the day that resulted in flood warnings.
Last week’s snowstorm also created many a problem for motorists throughout the county, with black ice factoring into several accidents that took place on both local roadways and Westchester parkways.
Black ice warnings were issued throughout Westchester, following both big and small crashes that were a result of a black ice.
Westchester County Police spokesman Kieran O’Leary said that drivers are advised to drive more slowly, and to leave extra space between themselves and the cars they are following. He added that even if vehicles are outfitted for the snow, they may not be ready for ice.
“Icy conditions are especially dangerous because cars will not necessarily come to a stop even when the brakes are applied in a timely manner,” he noted. “Even four-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive systems may provide better traction in snow, but won’t provide an added advantage in icy conditions.”
Robert Sinclair Jr., the media relations manager for AAA New York, noted that black ice tends to accumulate in some of the most perilous spots of a roadway: at the bottom of hills, in the shadows of hills and trees and slick city corners that are obscured by buildings.
“It takes a vehicle nine times longer to slow down in snow and ice,” he said. “Speed limits are for ideal conditions, so slow down and be safe,” he said. “It’s important to slow down before a turn, not going into it. If a vehicle does start to slide, look where you want to go and steer in that direction. That’ll help you no matter what the (drive train).”
According to icyroadsafety.com, “on black ice, no speed is safe, particularly if there is any banking or slope to the roadway. If freezing rain is in the forecast, it is better off postponing travel until it is over with. Black ice kills more people than tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning and floods.”
“A simple rule of thumb is this: if you had to walk carefully to your car because you were afraid you might slip on ice, then you should drive your car more cautiously once you get behind the wheel,” O’Leary added. “That same ice that was under your feet will be under your tires as you drive. “
Sinclair said that motorists also face other problems during cold spells. He said AAA gets the most calls for dead batteries, which are weakened by the cold; flat tires because they expand and contract when heated or cooled, and often aren’t properly inflated; and lockouts, when drivers attempt to warm up their cars before leaving and get locked out in the cold.
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