One would like to think that if you drive slow and carefully, you can avoid an accident; however with black ice, even the most cautious drivers can lose control of their car or truck unexpectedly. This occurs because of the surprise element of black ice because even though some parts of the road are dry, others may have black ice. Knowing how and where black ice is likely to occur can help drivers be more aware to driving conditions and be prepared as much as possible.
How does black ice form?
Black ice forms when the air is 32 degrees or less at ground level and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the rain to freeze upon impact and hence creating ice. Sleet as well as the refreezing of snow or water can also create black ice.
When and where is black ice most likely to form?
Black ice is most likely to appear at dawn and during the night as that is when temperatures are the lowest. It is most likely to appear on shaded or tree covered areas of roads and driveways due to the lack of sunlight . Bridges and overpasses also freeze more quickly than the road which is why there are typically black ice warning signs before each one.
If you see that the pavement is dry but see patches that look dark and shiny, there is probably going to be black ice on the roads.
Tips for staying safe(r) on black ice
While driving on black ice is similar to driving in the snow, it can be more difficult on the ice as there is often less traction. You simply have to be at the mercy of your vehicle until you pass over it.
Before hitting black ice...
- Use the car's thermometer as a guide to driving conditions, but be wary as sometimes the reading can be inaccurate due to water hitting sensor or heat from the engine throwing off the true temperature.
- Look at the pavement before getting into your vehicle, especially at night. Do you see any patches of black, glossy pavement? If so, take it slow.
While on black ice...
- Stay calm
- Do not hit the breaks
- Keep the steering wheel steady
- Lift your foot off the accelerator
- If you start to slide, do not over-correct your steering
Even your best efforts to avoid a collision may not work out perfectly, but perhaps you can reduce your chance of injury and vehicle damage by following the tips mentioned. If you still experience an accident, here is a link to a previously written HPM blog called Helpful Car Accident Tips.
As hardy New Hampshire drivers, we often scoff at the video feed of our fellow Americans, typically in warmer clients, who don't know how to drive in inclement weather. The truth is that no one has complete control of their car or truck on black ice, so the best we can do is to be prepared and aware as possible. Stay safe!