Icy roads kill at least twice the number of people annually than all other severe weather hazards combined (tornadoes hurricanes lightning floods high winds) annual injuries number well into the thousands with many millions in property damage according to (icy road safety.com). Crashes caused by black ice can be terrifying. They can spin you out of control and slam you into another car or object.
Conditions That Cause Black Ice
Black ice is a transparent coating of ice that’s hard to see because it looks like a wet road surface. Although it is difficult to see, black ice is more likely to form in certain places and during certain times, so there are some warning signs drivers can look for, including the following:
- Black ice is likely to form after light rain falls on a road surface when the temperature is just below freezing (32 °F).
- Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because temperatures drop rapidly on elevated surfaces.
- Black ice is also more prevalent on parts of the road that don’t get direct sunlight, such as tree-lined roads.
- If most of the road is a dull black color, but there’s a patch ahead that appears shiny, you may encounter black ice.
- Even if you have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, your vehicle can still lose traction on black ice.
Tips for Driving in Black Ice Conditions
If you’re driving where or when black ice can occur, remember these tips:
- Listen for the sound of water coming off the tires, if it starts to get quieter this could be the start of black ice.
- Watch the car’s thermometer to help alert the driver to this change in condition.
- Watch oncoming traffic are they driving slower than usual, what about car way ahead in your lane.
- Drive slowly. Speeding when there is a possibility for black ice will give you less control if you do encounter an ice patch.
- The distance you need to stop your vehicle on black ice can be nine times the distance required to stop on a dry road.
- Use your headlights in the afternoon and evening to help you see any shiny spots on the road that could be black ice.
- Check your tire tread. If it is worn, you will have less traction if you hit a black ice patch.
- When there is a potential for black ice, never drive with your cruise control active.
- Steer slowly; keep your car in balance.
- Wear your seat belt (should be a no-brainer)