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How to Stay Safe on Black Ice

At some point in every driver’s life, they will encounter black ice. While it can create instant panic, it’s also good to know that generally black ice comes in small patches and won’t last long. Resisting the urge to hit the brakes and keeping the steering wheel straight will help you ease over the ice patch safely. Read on to explore tips will have you armed and ready for the dangers that lie ahead.

Since you never know what will happen when you get behind the wheel during the slippery season, be sure and check out cheap auto insurance that fits your needs and your budget so you feel more confident and secure on winter roads.

Slow Down

The first rule for all winter driving is to slow down. Regardless of the weather conditions, it’s nearly impossible to know what your vehicle will encounter on the roadway and what you will run into with regards to precipitation. Lake effect snow, rain and ice can all fall without a moment’s notice, and driving more slowly will allow you to handle all of it when it happens.

Black Ice is Regular Ice

Black ice is technically regular ice. It’s called black ice because it is so thin, it is transparent. Its transparency makes it blend in with the color of the road. When ice is invisible, your only cue is if you see another driver sliding. If a particular road is not designed well enough to drain properly, ice can form and create a hazard.

What are the Conditions that Cause Black Ice?

Black ice often looks like wetness on the roadway, but that is generally how most roads look in the winter, so it’s difficult to distinguish between wetness and ice. There are various conditions that will cause black ice to form, and it’s helpful to know of them ahead of time.

  • Overpasses and bridges will ice over first because they don’t have any ground beneath them keeping them warm. Temperatures drop most quickly on these types of roadways, so always approach overpasses and bridges slowly.
  • The parts of the road that don’t get a lot or any sunlight will be more apt to form black ice. This includes tunnels and roads that are tree-lined.
  • Keep a watch on the weather. Ice may form on roadways after a light rain and temperatures falling to just below freezing (32 degrees F).

Become Acquainted with Black Ice

It’s true that the more you fear something, the more difficult it will be for you to overcome it when you encounter it. Remember that black ice is regular ice. It is just as slick and slippery and can cause an accident, however, it’s also maneuverable when you stay calm and know what to do.

If possible, practice driving over ice in a safe surrounding. Take a seasoned winter driver with you. Locate a big, empty parking lot and drive over the ice. Get an idea of how your car handles and feels as you drive over it. Practice what to do to make it over the ice safely. If you have ABS braking, get an idea of what that feels like when it kicks in when you encounter the ice.

Tips for Driving On Black Ice

  • If you hit black ice, the first thing you must do is remain calm. If you panic, you’re more likely to act impulsively and hit the brakes hard or jerk the steering wheel. Neither one of these actions will help you get out of the situation safely.
  • As counterintuitive as it might seem, the best thing to do is to ease up off the gas pedal and allow the car to glide over the ice. If the back end of the car is sliding to the left or to the right, gently turn the steering wheel in that same direction. Struggling against the turn could cause you to spin out of control.
  • Do not hit the brakes as it will cause you to slide. Remember, black ice patches aren’t usually bigger than 20 feet.
  • Shift into a lower gear if you’re able. This allows the car to slow down without hitting the brakes and gives you more control.
  • Black ice does not discriminate. Regardless of whether you have 4-wheel or all-wheel drive, you can easily lose traction in a black ice encounter.

If you’re able to see that cars in front of you are slipping and sliding it’s best to exit the roadway as soon as possible. If you aren’t able to do this, stay calm and try to steer into whatever will cause the least amount of damage to you and other drivers.

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