A common sight on Missouri roadways, the black tar lines that criss-cross the street in many locations don't seem to pose much of a threat. This is true for the average motorist driving a car, but for motorcyclists it's a different story. Those lines, sometimes called "black tar snakes", can be incredibly dangerous to two-wheeled vehicles and have lead to a number of deadly motorcycle accidents.
The cause for concern stems from the fact that those tar lines can become very slick, especially in wet or hot conditions. Cars have four points of contact with the road so even if one tire loses traction on a tar line, the others will keep the car stable. Motorcycles and their two wheels are much more susceptible to losing control when hitting a slick spot.
Road crews use the tar to fill in cracks on the roadway. This is very common here in Missouri where winter temperatures cause wear and tear resulting in more cracks in the pavement. Rather than replace sections of roadway every year, the cracks are sealed with tar.
The way the tar is applied has an effect on how dangerous it can be. If excess amounts of tar are not scraped away, the slick area is larger and more likely to cause a Missouri motorcycle crash. Also, the tar is actually a mixture with different sealants and if this mixture is not made well, it can also make for a slicker finished product.
There are no numbers to show just how many wrecks are caused by the tar lines because it is not tracked by any national agency. Even in cases where the tar lines may have had an effect, the accident reports can be inconclusive. Motorcyclists who have been riding for years, though, will likely be very aware of these hazards. New riders need to be aware of these lines and the problems they cause, particularly if you hit them while accelerating or braking.