Black Ice: The Invisible Threat

Whether you’ve lived through numerous cold winters or are experiencing one for the first time, black ice is always something to watch out for. Every year, numerous accidents occur due to the presence of black ice, many resulting in serious injury or even death. Black ice is not something to roll your eyes at or quickly dismiss. If temperatures drop below freezing, then chances are you are going to encounter it. In this post you will learn all about black ice and how you can be prepared for it!


What Is Black Ice?

When you first hear of black ice you may just think of ice that is black, but its name is not entirely accurate. It has also been known as “clear ice” which better represents what it actually is. Black ice is a layer of ice that freezes over a surface, such as a road or sidewalk. It is transparent, which if formed on an asphalt surface you can still see the black through the ice, thus giving it the name, “black ice.” Often times, recently fallen or plowed snow can melt during the day leaving a puddle of water where the snow once sat, or if the surface temperature is freezing while raining or snowing above. The result is black ice.


What Makes Black Ice More Dangerous?

There are plenty of icy conditions out there that are obviously dangerous upon first sight. Because black ice is so transparent, it can be hard to spot, especially while driving. Black ice also has a smooth surface, leaving little texture that may normally be noticed in other icy situations. The smoothness of black ice further enhances the danger, making it even more slippery than textured ice.


While driving, if your tire hits the black ice just right or if you brake while on black ice, there is little you can do to stop your vehicle from sliding in any number of directions. You really are helpless in your vehicle until you reach a safer surface.


How Can You Spot Black Ice?

There are actually a few things you can do to spot black ice:

  • Pay attention to temperature reports. If your car has a temperature gauge, pay attention to it. Regardless, make a habit of checking weather reports each day during the winter months to see when black ice is more likely to be a threat.
  • Be aware of surfaces. Before you get in the car, take a look at the sidewalks and pavements. If there are dry areas with dark spots that appear glossy, then it is probably black ice.

What If You Hit Black Ice?

The initial reaction to hitting an icy spot while driving is to hit the brakes. But wait! Here are some tips on what you should actually do when you drive on black ice:

  • Do not hit the brakes! Take your foot off the accelerator and just focus on controlling your steering. There is no traction on black ice, so slamming on the brakes will do you no good and could cause your vehicle to spin out of control or steer you on a path you do not want.
  • Do not over-correct your steering. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to wait out the slide until you hit a surface with traction or until your vehicle runs out of momentum. Again, messing too much with your steering, if you are not in control, can potentially increase the danger.
  • Do not accelerate. In fact, it would be wise to just take your foot off the accelerator altogether. Your number one goal should be to control your vehicle through the ice. You can speed back up to the recommended limits once the conditions are not so treacherous.  

If you find black ice around where you frequently walk, like your porch, sidewalk, or driveway, then you should be sure to spread ice melt over the questionable areas. Polar Ice Melt offers a variety of ice melts that can help make your home and work a lot safer.

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