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Black ice suspected in 2 fatal Illinois car accidents

The prolonged frigid temperatures of early 2014 have wreaked havoc on drivers throughout Illinois. While heavy snowstorms slow roadways, another more insidious hazard accompanies winter weather: black ice.

Illinois state troopers cite black ice as a contributing factor in two fatal car accidents on the morning of Feb. 9. Two people died when a driver lost control of her vehicle on a tollway near Hoffman Estates. The car struck a light pole and reportedly came to rest on the opposite side of the road. Emergency workers transported a third occupant to the hospital.

Additional injuries resulted when another vehicle collided with the patrol cars at the scene.

In fact, later that morning, a separate auto accident involving an overturned truck resulted in a fatality and two injuries in Antioch.

Black ice is nearly invisible and forms on road surfaces that are colder than the air. The air's moisture freezes, leaving a smooth, glossy sheet of ice on the pavement. Drivers don't always expect or see black ice in clear or sunny conditions, and many motorists drive at unsafe speeds.

Even though black ice often catches drivers by surprise, motorists are still responsible for reducing their risk. Drivers should slow down on overpasses, ramps and tunnels, which tend to freeze more quickly than other stretches of road. Early morning drivers may want to be especially cautious, since the pavement warms more slowly than the air, creating optimal black ice conditions.

Unfortunately, not all drivers take these precautions and pose a danger to innocent motorists and pedestrians. Careless driving may result in more than just a harmless highway fender-bender. Obviously, negligence behind the wheel can cause fatalities and serious injuries.

In these cases, victims or their families may wish to seek legal guidance. A personal injury attorney can help families seek compensation for medical expenses or the pain and suffering associated with losing a loved one.

Source: CBS Chicago, "Black Ice Believed to be Responsible for Two Fatal Crashes Sunday Morning," Feb. 9, 2014

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