If you drive regularly, you probably take steps to reduce the risk of a crash whenever you get behind the wheel. You could choose to avoid your cellphone when driving, stay off the roads when you’re feeling tired or just practice great care when operating a vehicle. Sometimes, however, there’s nothing you can do to prevent a crash. Sometimes that’s because of another’s drivers bad decisions, but other times, it could be due to inclement weather.
Most people realize that ice can pose a real threat to vehicle and pedestrians alike. However, fewer people understand that not all ice is readily visible on the road when you’re driving. If you’re looking for white drifts or focusing on other vehicle during the winter, you could totally overlook the massive threat of black ice.
What is black ice?
Black ice, which is also called clear ice by some, is what happens when a thin layer of water freezes on a paved surface. The name black ice refers not the actual color of the ice, which is transparent, but the fact that it’s very difficult to see, even under the best conditions. It blends in with the street and looks black, like the pavement underneath it.
Whether there’s been rain followed by dropping temperatures or just a short melt that quickly refroze, black ice is a very real risk to anyone traveling in a vehicle, especially at higher speeds. It can also result from far less water, like morning fog or condensation. Whatever the source, black ice is very dangerous.
How to stay safe around black ice
The biggest issue with black ice may be how hard it is for drivers to notice it before it’s too late. Sometimes, entire roads may end up covered, but may times black ice only affects a small area. As you might imagine, black ice can reduce the traction between even the best and newest tires and the road. The end result could be slipping, sliding or even spinning uncontrollably.
The best approach to black ice is to avoid it. Reduce your driving speed and plan more time for your commute any time there’s precipitation or a risk for black ice, such as a rapid change in temperature during the winter. However, occasionally there’s just no way to avoid black ice. When that happens, remaining calm and acting properly could reduce the potential for a crash.
Keep your steering wheel straight. Some people say to turn into the slide, but doing so could result in spinning or worse slipping. Completely losing control of your vehicle is a worst-case scenario for winter driving. While you may want to brake, avoid that impulse. The faster and harder you break, the more likely you are to slide. Instead, just take your foot off the gas. If possible, turn on your flashers and honk your horn to warn other nearby drivers that you don’t have control of the vehicle.