Picture this: You’re driving along just like you would on any other day. Suddenly you feel yourself veering and gliding. You hit the brakes, but you’re not slowing down. You’re skidding on black ice: a thin, slick coating of transparent ice, practically invisible to drivers.
HOW DOES BLACK ICE FORM?
Black ice can form when a light rain falls on pavement that’s colder than 32 degrees, or when roads are wet and the temperature plummets toward freezing.
CONDITIONS THAT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO BLACK ICE
- -Look for black ice in the early morning or at night, when roads are colder.
- -Watch for areas that don’t receive much sunlight, though black ice can still form in broad daylight.
- -Beware of bridges and overpasses, which are often cooler because air circulates around them.
- -Be mindful of roadways near bodies of water, where increased moisture in the air can be a contributing factor.
SPOTTING BLACK ICE
Black ice is dangerous by nature, as it can resemble a slight puddle or be hard to see, but you can sometimes spot it.
- -In daylight, look for glossy patches on the road—a glaze-like sheen can be a good indicator.
- -In diminishing light, use headlights to spot particularly reflective areas.
- -And at nighttime, be extra vigilant. Black ice will be incredibly hard to spot.
PRECAUTIONS WHEN BLACK ICE IS LIKELY
In anticipation of black ice:
- -Don’t use cruise control.
- -Monitor outdoor temperatures as they near freezing, especially on wet roadways.
- -Maintain a safe distance from surrounding vehicles. There’s more time to react in an emergency.
- -Ensure that your tires have adequate tread.
- -AdvanceTrac electronic stability control (ESC) will help prevent you from sliding and skidding by using sensor-informed selective braking.
WAYS TO HANDLE BLACK ICE
If you do find yourself sliding on black ice:
-Stay calm and take your foot off the gas pedal.
-Don’t slam the brakes, as that can cause you to skid and lose control.-Keep your steering wheel straight, but if your car is sliding in one direction, gently steer in that same direction.
-Finally, look for areas in the road where you can regain traction, like snowy, salted or sanded areas, or an empty field, or even a snow bank. Wait until you’ve regained traction before gently applying the brakes.
When you’re off the black ice, take a moment to calm down in a safe area. You’ve just encountered one of the road’s cold-weather dangers, and you deserve a break!
Do your best to keep your vehicle prepped by visiting one of our our service departments for a brake, tire and steering alignment checkup.