Icy roads create perilous driving conditions thanks to their imperceptibility and reduction of tire traction. The full extent of their danger is evident in Federal Highway Administration research, which shows that icy pavement is responsible for 156,164 crashes and 41, 860 injuries every year. In fact, icy pavement alone causes 13 percent of all yearly weather-related crashes.
Despite abundant evidence supporting the danger of icy roads, many communities find themselves still unprepared for winter weather due to common misconceptions. They underestimate the hazard presented by icy roads and aren’t aware of existing icy road safety solutions, causing them to not take the serious, precautionary measures needed.
That’s why I’ve gathered a list of the five most common myths surrounding icy roads, disproving them to provide accurate icy road information in time for the upcoming winter months.
1) Icy roads aren’t that dangerous.
Icy roads present a serious threat to the safety of drivers during winter months. This is supported by ample data, showing that 521 people are killed every year in collisions caused by icy pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Although ice can’t always be easily seen on roads, it occurs more often than most realize when temperatures begin to drop.
2) Only states with extreme winters need icy road safety solutions.
Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. lives in areas deemed snowy regions. Even if your specific region doesn’t get heavy snowfall, spots such as bridges are always at a high risk for developing ice when temperatures get lower. These locations especially benefit from bright, flashing signage to alert drivers of ice.
3) Only bridges are hotspots for icy roadways.
Bridges are one common spot to be on the lookout for ice since they lack the warmth provided by the ground and brisk winds pass beneath them. Other locations are especially dangerous under icy conditions as well though, such as sharp turns where vehicles may lose traction and run off the road if their speed is too high.
4) Static icy road warning signs are sufficient for warning drivers.
Static signage that is present year-round can become part of the background for commuters and locals. That’s why it’s vital to have flashing signage as part of your icy road system, seen in TAPCO’s Icy Road Warning System. This system calculates road temperature and relative humidity to determine if icy conditions are possible, activating flashing perimeter LEDs.
5) These systems only warn when ice is already present.
The TAPCO Icy Road Warning System uses the Surface Sentinel Environmental Sensor to analyze conditions and trigger activation. If the sensor determines, by road temperature and humidity, that ice could be present, the flashing sign is triggered. This warns vehicles even if ice has not developed yet so precautionary measures can be taken.
Studies prove the threat presented by icy roads. As winter approaches, now is the time to consider how you can increase safety in your community by providing drivers with real-time warning of dangerous, icy conditions.
TAPCO | Product Manager
With several years of experience in the traffic safety industry, Aleischa manages TAPCO's dynamic curve warning solution product line and most other specialty solution product lines, including emergency vehicle, icy road and intersection conflict.
Previously, she was a member of TAPCO's customer service team, which fostered a passion for process and data analysis, as well as creative problem solving.