You’ve probably heard of black ice and the threat it poses to drivers, but what is it exactly? What’s the difference between regular ice and black ice? Should you really be concerned about it?
To answer that last question, yes, you should be concerned about it. Black ice is ice that’s developed on the surface of a roadway. It’s transparent, but takes on the color of the surface of road it’s on. When ice gets wet from outside temperatures warming up, it becomes dangerously slick. Tires can’t provide the proper traction needed to grip the road, and that’s when accidents happen.
The most dangerous place to drive on black ice is on bridges and overpasses. Why are these areas more susceptible to black ice? They not only cool from the top, but from the bottom as well. Cold air hits these structures from both directions, causing them to freeze way more quickly than normal roads.
Over 150,000 car crashes occur every year due to icy pavement, and over 550 people die in these crashes. That means on a given year, black ice claims more lives than salmonella, which kills 400 people every year.
So, if you find yourself sliding across dangerous black ice, what should you do? Hit the brakes and stop immediately? Take your foot off the gas and coast through? Accelerate to get out of the icy patch?
The right thing to do would be to take your foot off the gas and coast through. When you slide over black ice, you should immediately slow down your reactions and not make any quick movements. Slowly take your foot off the pedal, stay calm, and try to coast through without endangering yourself or others. Once your car slows down, it’s likely the tires will be able to grip the road better.
Stay safe this winter season and be on the lookout for black ice in your area!