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“Black-Tar Snakes” Causing Serious Motorcycle Accidents Nationwide


Black-Tar Snakes

There’s a dangerous serpent out there. And while this kind doesn’t have real fangs, it can be just as deadly – particularly for motorcycle owners and riders. It’s called a “black-tar snake.” It can be seen on roads and highways all over America – including our own New York State thruways, I-90 and I-87 – and its “population” has grown exponentially in recent years.

What Are Tar Snakes?

Tar snakes are long, often “squiggly,” random lines on highways made from asphalt sealer – a material made from tar – that highway crews install to help prevent further cracking of the actual roadway surface itself. As roads age, particularly when subjected to rain, cold weather, and heat, they begin to break down. Cracks develop in the external surface and, if left unchecked, the cracks can compromise the entire roadbed.

As a temporary fix, highway construction crews fill the cracks with the tar-based sealant. It prevents water from getting into the cracks and it postpones the need for more expensive road repair. The repairs often result in random, windy lines of tar that resemble snakes; hence, the name black-tar snakes.

Tar Snakes Are “Harmless” to Autos

Tar snakes have little, if any, effect on passenger vehicles and trucks; with four or more wheels on the pavement at any given moment, a slight loss of traction isn’t dangerous. If you are on a motorcycle, however, the situation is quite different. The snakes can be hazardous in that they:

  • Have a different texture than the asphalt around them. Motorcycle tires react to the snakes than to the adjacent road.
  • Can create an uneven, bumpy road surface that can wreak havoc on your bike’s suspension.
  • Become slick and soft in hot weather and when they are wet.
  • Can come upon the motorcycle driver without warning.

Because tar snakes are generally softer than the surrounding asphalt, they tend to collect foreign objects – small screws, nails, and pieces of metal. Those objects can damage tires and even cause blowouts.

Tips For Handling Tar Snakes

Cycling experts do have a number of tips for maneuvering through tar snakes as safely as possible. They include:

  • Scanning the surface ahead of your bike. If you have noticed “snakes” on roads that you routinely travel, try to memorize their location so as to avoid them.
  • Riding over the snakes – if you can – at a 90-degree angle. Snakes are most dangerous when you ride over them “vertically.”
  • Reducing your speed when you identify a patch of highway that should be marked “snakes ahead.”
  • Remaining “loose” on the bars. Try to let the tires find their own traction as you move through the dangerous area. The stronger your grip, the more likely you’ll end up in a spill.

For Those Involved in Motorcycle Accident, Skilled Legal Counsel is a Key

Have you or a family member been involved in a motorcycle accident? The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has the experience and resources to help you recover the damages that you may deserve. We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. With offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and Schenectady, we have been representing clients for more than 125 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 730-4723 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

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