Hidden Danger: Black Ice

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that over 150,000 accidents occur each year as a result of driving on icy pavements. And what’s even scarier is that some of this ice we can’t even see! That is black ice. 

What is Black Ice?

Contrary to its name, black ice is actually transparent. It blends into the pavement, so unsuspecting drivers may easily lose control when passing over it. The slippery surface is a common cause of car crashes throughout the winter season. Black ice forms overnight—between sunset and sunrise—when temperatures drop to their lowest levels. Therefore, you are most likely to experience it first thing in the morning, during your commute to work.

Roadways become very slippery when black ice forms, leading to hazardous driving conditions and an increased risk of car accidents. Common locations to find black ice include bridges, overpasses and spots on the road shaded by trees or other objects.

Avoid Driving

It’s always better to postpone travel when you suspect the roads could be icy. If you have to go out, keep your headlights on and never use cruise control – you need to be on high alert to handle any potential black ice.

Be on the Lookout

Listen to the weather forecast before hitting the road, so you can anticipate precipitation and freezing conditions. As you’re out on the road, look ahead for any glossy, shiny patches and take particular care around bridges and overpasses.

Watch Your Speed

Just like driving in snow, you'll want to go slowly and steadily over patches of ice, especially black ice. Unlike snow, which still offers a little traction for your tires, black ice is completely smooth, and your tires won't stick at all. As a result, it can be difficult to stop if you're going too fast. 

Don’t Use your Breaks

You should avoid breaking or pumping the brakes when driving on black ice. Although your first inclination may be to brake as you would in other driving emergencies, it will actually do more harm than good when driving on black ice. You should only gently brake to avoid losing control and going into a full skid.

Manage Skidding

One of the biggest mistakes that many drivers make when driving on black ice is reacting in the wrong way. This can result in losing complete control of the car, often causing it to spin. To regain control, turn the vehicle into the skid while you’re pumping the brakes. As the skid begins to break you can go back to steering the car as normal. It’s important that your tires regain traction on the road. That’s when you’ll find it easier to continue on from that point.

What if I am Involved in an Accident?

Winter weather can make driving more dangerous, but safe driving can help prevent car crashes. Regardless of when your accident happens, black ice or not, it can be difficult to manage on your own. If you’ve suffered an injury in a car crash, our experienced team of attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. is here to help. For a free consultation, contact us today.

Source: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/q1_roadimpact.htm

https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/black-ice-winter-weather-explainer

https://www.snowsportzone.com/black-ice-safety/