Within minutes, sleet and freezing rain can create the most hazardous of
driving conditions, often leading to expensive and even fatal vehicle
accidents. Let’s look at the physics behind two dangers that can
make driving in sleet or freezing rain a potentially deadly proposition.
Freezing rain occurs when precipitation falls as rain but freezes upon
hitting the surface. Sleet consists of water pellets that have already
frozen by the time they hit the ground. Both can significantly reduce
the amount of traction your tires have on the road; in fact, only a few
millimeters of ice accumulation on the road can cause your car to slip
out of control. From a physics standpoint,
friction is the force that helps your tires grip the road, but ice has almost zero
friction qualities. Once a vehicle begins sliding on ice, regaining traction
becomes very difficult or impossible until the car stops sliding or until
the tires find something else to grip.
Both freezing rain and sleet affect your ability to see while driving.
Water is opaque in both liquid and solid forms. When liquid rain hits
your windshield, your wiper blades clear the rain off so you can see.
However, freezing rain or sleet can create a coating of ice on your windshield
that your wiper blades can’t clear without some form of ice melt.
Ice can also accumulate on the wiper blades, hindering their ability to
clear the windshield properly.
For more information on driving safely in dangerous weather conditions,
see our post on
Safe Driving Tips for Extreme Winter Weather.
Washington D.C. car accident attorneys to your options for compensation if you are injured in a vehicle accident.