The Zebra reported 135,000 injuries from car accidents due to winter weather hazards in 2022. Winter can bring picturesque landscapes and cozy moments, but it also introduces some perilous road conditions.
One of the most treacherous hazards is black ice, which is invisible, slippery and extremely dangerous. This winter phenomenon can catch even the most seasoned drivers off guard, so to avoid its hazards, it is essential to understand what it is and how to navigate it.
What is black ice?
Black ice is not actually black as the name suggests. It is clear, which is what makes it so deceptive. It forms when the temperature is low, and moisture from rain, fog or melting snow freezes upon contact with the road’s surface. This thin, transparent layer of ice is almost invisible, making it hard to distinguish from the regular road.
Safety tips for driving on black ice
Reducing your speed is imperative when you suspect or encounter black ice because slower speeds give you more time to react if your vehicle starts to skid. You also want to leave a significant gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This allows more time for braking and maneuvering if you hit a patch of black ice.
It is also important to Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel with both hands for better control in case of a skid. Jerky or abrupt movements can cause your vehicle to lose traction, so focus on making gentle, gradual actions only. Apply the brakes gently and steadily and never slam on them.
If your vehicle begins to skid, steer in the direction of the skid. For example, if the rear of your vehicle slides to the left, turn the wheel gently to the left. Overcorrecting can lead to a dangerous fishtailing effect. If you sense a skid, make small and controlled adjustments to your steering.
Stay aware of black ice
Black ice is more prone to form on bridges, overpasses and roads that receive less sunlight, so it is important to exercise extra caution when approaching these areas. Stay vigilant by keeping an eye on weather forecasts and updates regarding road conditions. If the conditions are perilous, consider postponing your trip if it is feasible.
Navigating on black ice can be an anxiety-inducing ordeal, but with the correct information and carefulness, you can minimize the associated dangers. It requires remaining attentive and alert while driving in winter weather to recognize when this hazard might be present and to respond appropriately.