Winter driving can be very dangerous. Under-salted roadways with snowy and icy conditions are the more obvious challenges, but perhaps the most dangerous threat out there is invisible…black ice.
Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice. Sleet and the refreezing of snow or water can also generate black ice.
It’s called black ice because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road, but it’s actually clear.
The prime times for the development of this ice are around dawn and in the late evening, when temperatures are typically the lowest. During the day, the best thing to do before getting in a vehicle is to take a look at the pavement. If the pavement is dry but you are seeing spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, that is probably going to be black ice.
Before getting on the roads at night, drivers should be informed of the area’s weather conditions, as black ice is hardest to see in the dark.
The most common locations for the emergence of black ice are shaded or tree-covered parts of driveways and roadways due to the lack of sunlight and bridges and overpasses because of their ability to freeze quickly.
While driving on black ice is similar in some regards to driving on snow, the biggest difference between the two is the amount of traction the vehicle retains.
With snow there its still some traction, whereas on ice there is no traction and that’s where it becomes very dangerous. Due to the lack of traction a car has on ice, the basic rule for driving on black ice is to stay calm and let the vehicle pass over it, according to Lee.
If You Find Yourself Driving on Black Ice