One of the most dangerous threats in winter is black ice. Black ice gets its name from the way it looks on asphalt, but it’s actually transparent, which makes it incredibly hard to spot while driving.
Black ice appears when the air temperature is around zero degrees and it’s caused by rain that freezes on contact, freezing rain, or rain that freezes just before contact (also known as sleet). Another cause is melting snow that then freezes with a rapid temperature change, creating road conditions similar to an ice rink.
How to Spot Black Ice
Modern safety technology helps recognize when black ice is a threat. Most vehicles these days have on-board thermometers that allow the driver to know the exterior air temperature. When the temperature approaches zero degrees, you should be on the look out for black as, as this is when it tends to form.
While black ice is transparent, dark spots on an otherwise dry road can be an indicator. Bridges, overpasses, wooded or shady areas, and intersections are places where black ice may form more frequently. It’s also more likely to form in the mornings or at dusk, so being aware of the times can make it easier to spot.
What Makes Black Ice So Dangerous?
Other than the fact that it’s close to invisible and prominent over bridges, shady areas, and overpasses, driving on black ice is much more dangerous than driving on snow. This is because of the lack of friction; driving on snow creates more friction against winter tires.
What should you do if you hit a patch of black ice?
First of all, don’t panic once you make contact with the ice. If you panic, you’re almost guaranteed to slam on the brakes or overcorrect your slide. Instead, keep your steering wheel steady in both hands, lift your foot off the accelerator, and remain calm as your car slows down. That way, you can slowly guide yourself to safety.
There are many hazards on the road during the wintertime. Be sure to stay alert in all conditions, especially when visibility is low.
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