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Black ice, outages and other remnants of winter weather

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 12:57 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to be mindful of possible black ice on the roads.

GDOT wants to remind drivers not to slam on their breaks or overcorrect their steering when hitting ice, as this often can cause a car to spin out of control.

The agency moved forward fully staffed into Monday with 121 employees out working.

The agency reports using hundreds of thousands of gallons of brine to treat major highways and roads.

Although a large part of the region was unscathed by a winter storm Sunday, areas did receive a large amount of rain, remnants of which could freeze as temperatures dip.

Although everything seemed fine Monday morning in Augusta, authorities issued advisories and said there could still be black ice Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Black ice is a transparent coating of ice, commonly found along roadways and other paved surfaces. The ice itself is not black, but may appear that way due to the often black road beneath it. Black ice can be dangerous for an unprepared driver because it causes the car to lose traction on the slippery road. Often times, a driver will not be able to see or detect black ice until it’s too late increasing the risk of a crash or collision.

So what should you do? Here are some safety tips you’ll need to know ahead of your commute:

1) Avoid slamming on those brakes

Although hard braking may seem like the most immediate solution when your vehicle starts to swerve, you’ll want to avoid doing so if you find yourself in trouble on black ice. Sudden braking will increase your chances of losing control and skidding along the road. Avoid hard braking as best as you can and calmly tap the brakes to slow down the car instead. You should also know the limitations and wear of your brakes.

2) Slow down by decelerating or shift to lower gear

Shifting to a lower gear is a great way to remain in control of your vehicle when you find yourself needing to slow down. You’ll want to let go of the gas to begin slowing down and shift down to the appropriate gear.

3) Keep the steering wheel straight

One of the most important tips when your car begins to swerve is to firmly hold your steering wheel straight. Overcorrecting the wheel increases the likelihood that you will lose control and veer into traffic.

4) Traction is your best friend

If you find yourself swerving and weaving beyond control, head for areas with gravel or snow. These areas can provide your tires with some life-saving traction and help you regain control of your vehicle. Be mindful of the dark parts of the road, as that can also end up being black ice.

5) Be prepared and stay calm

If you have an opportunity to prepare before you hit the road, consider investing in winter gear for your vehicle and reading up on weather conditions. Consider keeping a packable shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and roadside safety kit during winter months. If you live in an area with heavier snow and ice levels, consider investing in snow chains for your tires. Most importantly, stay calm. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, it is important that you proceed strategically.

Power outages

The winter storm did cause some power outages in the CSRA. At one point, Aiken Electric Cooperative reported more than 150 houses without power in Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda counties.

That number was down to 39 by morning morning.

Dominion Energy said its outages peaked at a little more than 17,000 just before 10 a.m. Sunday. With more than 2,000 Dominion employees and hundreds of additional crew members on hand, that number was down to 15 as of Monday afternoon.

Georgia Power said about 10,000 of its customers across the state still lacked power as of Monday afternoon.

Electrical cooperatives in Georgia still had about 6,600 customers without power, down from 70,000 at the height of the storm.

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