Black ice is the term for a thin clear coating of ice on a road or paved surface. It is extremely hard to see, especially at night, and you usually don't even know that it is there until your car is sliding over it. Black ice is the cause of the majority of accidents in the winter time, and even the most experienced drivers have a hard time avoiding it. Here are some tips for spotting and avoiding black ice.
Check the Temperature
If your car's thermometer is telling you it is close to freezing temperatures, 32 degrees Fahrenheit, then there is a significant possibility there is black ice on the road. Be aware when driving in freezing temps, and always drive at or below the speed limit in an area where it has recently rained or snowed, or where water from another source may have frozen on the road.
Be Extra Careful in Shaded Areas
Areas of the road that are shaded by trees tend to accumulate more ice than other areas. Slow down when you reach these stretches of road and pay attention.
Look for Glossy Areas
When the road is dry, black ice appears as splotches of glossy darker spots. By avoiding all distractions in your car, like loud music and cell phones, you can spot glossy areas before you approach them. Drive slower when they are spotted and always be sure there are no cars behind you or alongside you before you brake or change direction.
Be Extra Vigilant in the Early Morning
The air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature in the early morning, so this is when most black ice occurs. Be extra vigilant and aware driving during these hours and give yourself extra time for your commute so you can drive slowly and carefully.
If you've taken all these precautions but still find yourself driving over black ice, never slam on your brakes. Hold your steering wheel steady and gradually decrease your speed. Steer in the direction your car is sliding and never overcorrect in the opposite direction.