One of the most dangerous aspects of driving in snowy or icy weather is black ice, and with some of areas of the country still experiencing below-freezing temperatures we thought it would be important to share some safety tips on driving in these adverse conditions.
Black ice is simply ice on the road that is hard to see. Hence, it is “black”. While it is tricky to detect black ice before you hit it, it’s not impossible. Look for what appear to be wet spots on the road that have a sort of dull, glossy shine like ice would.
If you can spot black ice before you hit it that’s great. But you probably won’t see it every time, so be sure to brush up below on how to react if you hit a patch of black ice.
First things first – immediately take your foot off the gas. When you hit black ice, your car will slide, making it very easy to lose control of your vehicle. Continuing to depress the gas pedal will only make this worse.
But not too fast. Most people’s first reaction when they hit black ice is to slam on their brakes. This will only make matters worse. It may be almost reflexive, but if you feel you’ve hit a patch of black ice, lightly tap your brakes and then ease into braking more forcefully. Slamming your brakes will cause you to skid and lose control, causing you to possibly swerve all over the road or end up in a ditch.
Go With the Flow
If you follow the two steps before this but you still skid, be sure not to jerk your steering wheel in the direction you want to go. Instead, continue to drive straight ahead, but if you can feel yourself starting to spin, steer with the direction of your spin. This will actually straighten your car out and keep you from hitting other cars.
Take It Down a Notch
Before you even get on the road, it might be a good idea to shift your car into a lower gear. Keeping your car in a lower gear will prevent you from going very fast when you accelerate, and it will also keep you from coasting too fast down hills. This is especially useful when driving in areas where black ice is likely to form: bridges, highway ramps, tunnels, and rural areas.
Don’t Tread on Me
In normal driving conditions it’s usually a good idea to maintain a 2-3 car gap between you and the car in front of you, if you can help it. But if there’s black ice on the roads, make that a 4-6 car gap. Doing this should keep you from hitting the car in front of you if you were to hit a patch of black ice. It’s also not a bad idea to keep your headlights on so that other drivers can see you.