Many states have mild winters, which means not a lot of snow, and little to no ice. However, that’s a different story for a lot of northern states, such as Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin. Black ice is different from normal ice which can accumulate on roads and is more dangerous. Let’s discuss black ice and how to safely navigate roads.

What Is Black Ice?

Black Ice is a type of ice that forms on the road’s surface after inclement weather, such as rain, sleet, or snow. Black ice can also form when snow thaws and refreezes. The name stems from the color it appears while it’s on the road’s surface. Since ice is transparent, it takes on the color of the pavement, which is usually black. Black ice is one of the most dangerous hazards and challenging obstacles you can face while driving.

Why Is Black Ice Dangerous?

Black ice is dangerous because it’s difficult to see. By the time you realize there’s black ice, you may have already driven over it and lost control of your vehicle. Many drivers lose control of their vehicles in this scenario because they brake suddenly or steer in a certain direction too hard.

More than 1,200 people are killed and over 115,000 people are injured in auto accidents caused by icy and snowy road conditions each year. Some regions of the U.S. can’t completely avoid icy and snowy road conditions. However, regardless of where you live, knowing how to safely navigate icy and snowy roads can help decrease the likelihood of you being involved in an auto accident.

How Can You Tell If Black Ice Is On the Road?

Great question! Since black ice is transparent, how can you tell if black ice is on the road? Although black ice is transparent, it will appear black because of the color of the pavement, making it difficult to see.

However, black ice is glossy and dark and doesn’t look like other parts of the road, so you need to focus on the road ahead to spot black ice. During the day, black ice has a shiny appearance, making it easier to detect. At night, it can be difficult to spot because black ice has a dull and dark appearance.

What’s the Difference Between Black Ice and Normal Road Ice?

Black ice is similar to normal road ice but the difference is how they form. Black ice is created when moisture in the air freezes when it comes into contact with the surface of a cold road. Unlike normal road ice, black ice is invisible. Black ice commonly forms when temperatures decrease during the evening or the early morning hours.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Black Ice?

The following are different risk factors that are associated with black ice:

  • Temperature – black ice often forms when air temperatures are at or below freezing (32°F). The most important factor is the temperature of the pavement. If the road’s surface is below freezing, even if the air temperature is not, there is a chance that black ice can form.
  • Time of day – black ice is more likely to form between sunset and sunrise. During these times, temperatures drop to their lowest.
  • Location – black ice commonly forms on roads that have a lot of trees. Due to the shade trees provide, the temperature is lower, making it the perfect location for black ice to form. This type of ice can also form on back roads, in tunnels, and overpasses. Since overpasses and bridges are elevated structures, they are more susceptible to the formation of black ice.

Expert Advice on Driving On Black Ice

Driving on black ice is dangerous. If you notice black ice patches on the road, you’ll want to proceed with extra caution. Here’s expert advice on how to navigate the road safely when black ice is on the road.

Use the Proper Tires

Winter or snow tires are the best to have on your vehicle during the winter months. Studded snow or winter tires will help you maintain control of your vehicle and traction, which is essential for traveling in icy and snowy conditions.

Maintain a Safe Distance From Other Vehicles

In general, you should always maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. When you’re driving in icy and snowy conditions, you should double the distance at a minimum.

Keeping more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you gives you time to react to other drivers should they make drastic changes in their driving behavior, such as changing lanes without a turn signal. Having a lot of distance between vehicles is also good if you lose control of your vehicle.

Steer Straight

When you’re driving in snowy or icy conditions, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle. Many drivers lose control of their vehicle when driving on icy roads because they jerk the steering wheel to prevent the car from going in a specific direction.

Turning the steering wheel too quickly or too hard can cause your vehicle to spin out. To avoid a spin-out or an accident, keep the steering wheel straight while driving. If your vehicle skids or fishtails, gently turn the steering wheel in the direction your vehicle is skidding to regain control.

Remain Focused

You should always stay focused on the road when you’re driving. However, when you’re driving in icy and snowy conditions, you need to pay even more attention to the road and your surroundings.

Driving on black ice always poses a risk of an accident. However, it’s safer when you’re prepared to react appropriately in a dangerous situation. Knowing how to maintain control of your vehicle is essential when icy roads are a factor.

Maintaining Control of Your Vehicle

Maintaining control of your vehicle is essential for staying safe while driving on icy roads and in snowy weather conditions. Remember to drive, turn, and brake slowly. Taking your time and driving slowly to your destination is one of the best ways to maintain control of your vehicle while driving on black ice. Spin-outs and skids are much easier to manage than if you were traveling at high speeds.

Take Caution When Driving Over Bridges

When you’re driving over bridges, pay extra close attention to the road to spot black ice patches. Since cool air decreases the temperature of the road from underneath and on the surface, the pavement on the bridge will freeze a lot quicker than roads.

Avoid Accelerating Too Quickly or Harshly

When you’re driving in unfavorable conditions, such as ice and snow, you should avoid pushing the accelerator too quickly. Accelerating too quickly can cause you to quickly lose control of your vehicle. When you need to increase your speed, gently press the accelerator.

Don’t Use Cruise Control

Avoid using cruise control in unfavorable weather conditions. While cruise control is beneficial in many situations, such as long road trips, it isn’t ideal for icy and snowy road conditions. Not using cruise control gives you time to react in dangerous situations.

Avoid Sudden Braking

If you hit a patch of black ice, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is to slam your brakes. Slamming the brakes is one thing you DON’T want to do because you could lose total control of your vehicle, causing an accident. To avoid losing control of your vehicle, gently press your car’s brakes or use your vehicle’s automatic braking system to decrease your vehicle’s speed.

Don’t Drive If You Don’t Have To

If you don’t have to drive, don’t. We’ve provided different techniques you can use to add an extra layer of security when you’re traveling on icy and snowy roads, but the best way to stay safe is to not drive.

When you’re not on the road, you avoid all risks of being involved in an accident, damaging other people’s property, and damaging your vehicle.

Although there’s no guaranteed way to stay safe when you’re traveling on icy and snowy roads, the tips we’ve provided will help you navigate these roads. Make sure you’re paying attention to your surroundings and remaining alert. Stay safe during the winter. Happy driving!