Technically, black ice should be called clear ice because it's invisible. It's invisible because it's formed without any air bubbles, making it blend right into the surface it's on. It forms readily on bridges, overpasses, and areas that are less traveled on, or areas with little to no sunlight.
Black ice tends to be found during the early morning and evening. Black ice can sometimes be seen as a shiny or glossy surface on the road. If you see cars ahead of you swerve for no reason, black ice may be the cause.
These things are important to know because detecting black ice early can give you the best advantage: avoiding it!
If your car runs into a patch of black ice, it will react in the same way as any other ice. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Practice driving over ice in advance. In a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot, practice. If you have an experienced winter weather driver available, ask them to come help for guidance. If you have ABS (Anti-lock Breaking System) it is important to know how it feels.
- Turn your headlights on in the early afternoon. The glare may help you detect ice on the road.
- Once you hit any ice, keep the steering wheel straight or turn slightly into the way your car is moving. DO NOT try to correct in the other direction, as this will mostly cause your car to swerve and spin out. If you feel your tail end starting to move to one side or the other, gently move your steering wheel in that direction.
- DON'T HIT THE BREAKS. Slow down once you drive over ice by taking your foot off the accelerator pedal. Hitting the breaks is oftentimes a drivers' reaction, but more often than not this will cause your car to spin out of control.
- If possible, shift into a lower gear. A lower gear gives you more control over your vehicle.
- Head for areas of traction if you feel yourself starting to lose control over your car. Although this is not always possible, an area with dirt, sand, or snow coverage will often give you enough traction to avoid slipping.
- If none of these things are possible and your car spins, guide your car into the area with the potential for least impact and lowest damage. This may mean a soft snow bank, an open field, or a even truck lane.
- STAY CALM! At any point in any of the above tips, it is most important to breathe and maintain composure so that you can pay attention to the road and situation around you.