How to Drive on Black Ice: Road Safety Tips

Nothing can be more terrifying than attempting to brake while realizing you’ve hit black ice. The combination of not being able to easily detect this hazard as well as the loss of control is what makes black ice so dangerous. Icy conditions are not uncommon in the US. Each year approximately 24% of weather-related accidents are caused by snowy, icy, or slushy pavements. Read on as we discuss what black ice is, how to detect it, and how to drive on black ice.

What is black ice?

Black ice is a thin, transparent film of ice covering a portion of the road. Contrary to its name, black ice isn’t actually ‘black.’ It appears black since it is clear, and what you see is the black pavement underneath. Because the ice film is so thin, it is often invisible to the eye. This makes it especially dangerous for unsuspecting drivers on the road. Black ice on a road can form in various ways. Ice may melt off during the day when temperatures rise above freezing. This melting causes a bit of slush and standing water to develop.  When evening approaches, temperatures may drop back to below freezing. It’s this temperature drop that freezes the water into a thin sheet of ice, known as black ice.

How to spot black ice

Learning how to drive on black ice requires first being able to spot it. However, as mentioned, black ice is extremely difficult to notice. The thin, transparent film of ice typically blends right in with the pavement. Although difficult, there are a few indicators that could denote the presence of black ice.  During the daytime, take a quick scan of the pavement. If you notice an area of the road that looks darker and perhaps a bit glossy, that may be an indicator of black ice. Likewise, for evening driving, look for patches on the road that appear slightly darker or duller.  Another helpful indicator would be checking the tires of the car driving in front of you. There likely is no black ice if you see water splashing up from the tires. If no water is spraying up, make sure you watch for the dark patches.

How to avoid black ice

One of the best black ice safety tips is to avoid it if at all possible. Here are some practical ways to avoid black ice on the roads:

  • Monitor the temperature: Make a note when your car thermometer displays a temperature close to freezing. A temperature hovering around 32°F mixed with wet pavements are ideal conditions for the formation of black ice.
  • Avoid shaded areas: Areas that are heavily shaded or near the bottom of hills are especially susceptible to black ice. 
  • Avoid bridges and overpasses: Due to the increased airflow, bridges and overpasses will cool much quicker, which facilitates the development of black ice.
  • Drive on high-traffic roads: Pavement with higher traffic will have fewer chances of black ice forming compared to low traffic areas, such as rural or suburban roads.

Tips for driving on black ice

Below are more safety tips for driving on black ice:

  • Stay alert: Always glance a few feet ahead of you for any dark patches while driving in black ice conditions. Be especially careful as you drive through shaded areas, bridges, and overpasses.
  • Drive straight: As much as you can, try to drive as straight as possible, without making any abrupt turns. Only make minor steering adjustments as needed.
  • Avoid cruise control: Avoid cruise control during winter or icy conditions. You’ll need full control of your vehicle when black ice is present.
  • Have proper tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. Winter tires may be a good investment, especially in cooler climate areas.

What to do if you lose control on black ice

You may have taken all the black ice safety precautions, but still hit a patch of ice while driving.  Here are some steps on what to do when you hit black ice:

  1. Don’t slam on brakes. Slamming on brakes will make it much harder for you to regain any sort of control on your vehicle.
  2. Release the accelerator. Slowly lift your foot off the gas pedal to slow down your vehicle.
  3. Keep the steering wheel straight. Do not oversteer or make sudden corrections.
  4. Make corrections as required. If your car is skidding to the left or right, turn your steering wheel in the same direction your car is sliding.  Do not steer your wheel in the opposite direction of where your car is sliding, as that may result in a spin-out.

Valiente Mott

Learning how to drive on black ice is no easy task. Spotting black ice can be difficult for even the most experienced of drivers.  However, understanding black ice road safety procedures is the first step in preventing accidents, damages, and injuries. If you’ve sustained an injury due to a weather-related accident, contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorney team at Valiente Mott today! We offer a free consultation, and you won’t pay unless we win! Our team of experts will walk you through the legal process as well as deal with your insurance company so you can get the maximum settlement for your injuries.

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