What Is Black Ice and How to Avoid It
Winter is a time when conditions on the road become increasingly hazardous. Drivers have to deal with reduced visibility, poor car performance, slippery road surfaces, extra stopping distance, and that most terrifying of seasonal hazards, patches of nearly invisible black ice.
In today’s article, we’ll be looking at what exactly black ice is, where it forms, and how to avoid it.
What Is Black Ice?
Black ice is a thin sheet of frozen water over the surface of the road. The ice itself is clear, but it doesn’t have the scuffing, flecking, and inclusions that make other types of ice more noticeable. Black ice tends to just look like the road surface beneath it.
Where Is it Found?
Black ice is most commonly found under bridges or other covered areas. The wind being funneled through these areas allows the temperature to drop to the freezing point of water. Small amounts of moisture trapped in crack and crevices then freeze and move out onto the roadway because ice grows as it freezes.
Even in areas that are naturally arid, black ice can form on well-traveled roads when moisture from vehicle exhausts settles on the road.
Because black ice is most often formed by wind-chill under certain structures, it can from in temperatures that wouldn’t otherwise be low enough to freeze water, catching drivers unaware. Because the sheet of ice is very thin, it can be almost impossible to see in certain lights.
How Do I Avoid Black Ice?
The best way to avoid black ice is not to drive when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you must drive, it’s worth waiting for your local municipal services to have gritted and salted the road before setting off.
If you find yourself on a patch of road you suspect has black ice on it, reduce your speed, pay close attention to the road, and leave a larger gap between you and other cars. If you need to maneuver, turn slowly and steadily, without accelerating, and let the traction of your tires do their work.
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