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Do bridges really ice before other roads?

You knew it was going to snow, and you prepared by making sure you had emergency supplies in your vehicle. You have blankets, a small amount of food and water. You've taken steps to guarantee that you can help yourself if you get stuck.

While these are helpful things to do, they won't help if you don't know how to drive in the conditions or if you have poor tires on your vehicle. It's important that you have tires with plenty of tread; using winter tires is preferable. You should also reeducate yourself on what you need to do differently when you drive in the winter.

If you are familiar with driving in cold temperatures, then you may already know that bridges ice and freeze faster than land. Most of the time, ice hazards are most prominent on bridges and overpasses, which is why drivers need to slow down before they approach. Even if the surrounding area is clear or only wet, that doesn't mean a bridge will be safe.

A bridge ices faster than land-based roadways because the air around it can bring down its temperatures from above, below and the sides. Whenever temperatures drop, the bridge automatically reaches that colder temperature faster. This sometimes catches drivers off-guard, which then results in crashes.

Another issue that happens on bridges is the development of black ice. It's hard to tell the difference between wet and icy roads, and freezing rain is known to make difficult-to-see black ice. Freezing rain may actually look identical to areas around it where the roads are wet. This could cause someone to slide and hit you or cause you to lose control yourself. In any case, the person who causes the crash could be liable for any damages or injuries.

Source: Icy Road Safety, "Icy Bridges: Taking Drivers by Surprise," accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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