As a Colorado driver, you’ve likely encountered black ice on the road more times than you care to think about. As you probably know, black ice is found on roads most often at night, but can also be present during the day.
If you’ve ever experienced black ice beneath your tires, you know that it is dangerous, but do you know why?
Black Ice Is Very Difficult to Identify
According to the Americal Meteorological Society:
“A thin sheet of ice, relatively dark in appearance, may form when light rain or drizzle falls on a road surface that is at a temperature below 0°C (32°F).”
The name “black ice” can be a bit misleading. Even though it may be dark, black ice isn’t actually black. It’s a thin coating of clear glaze ice on a surface (typically a road or walkway).
What makes black ice so unique is that there are usually very low levels of visible ice pellets, snow, or sleet around black ice. Also, black ice forms without trapping in air bubbles, which makes it blend in with the surface it forms over.
All of these factors make black ice almost impossible to spot.
Tips for Driving on Black Ice
#1 - Know where to expect black ice.
According to the United States Forest Service:
- Black ice typically forms at night or early in the morning when temperatures are coldest, or when the sun isn’t there to warm the roads.
- Black ice typically forms on portions of the road that don’t see much sun, for instance, along a tree-lined route or a tunnel. Less-traveled roads will also likely have more black ice.
- You can expect to see black ice on bridges, overpasses, and the road underneath overpasses.
#2 - Know when to expect black ice.
- Black ice is commonly found on the road in the early morning and evening. You are less likely to encounter black ice during the day, but it may still be present on certain portions of the road.
#3 - Know how to spot black ice (if possible).
It’s not always possible to spot black ice, but it’s important to know what to look out for in case it is visible. Black ice is mostly invisible at night, but you may be able to identify it during the day. If most of the road you’re driving on is a dull black color, but the patch coming up looks shiny, it may be black ice.
If you hit black ice, don’t panic. Instead, do the following:
- Do as little as possible. Allow your vehicle to pass over the ice patch.
- Release your foot from the gas pedal.
- Do not press the brake pedal.
- If possible, shift into a lower gear.
- Keep the steering wheel straight.
- If your back end starts sliding in either direction, turn the steering wheel very gently in the same direction as the slide.
- If you try to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction, you may skid or spin out.
- Go toward an area with more road traction, such as:
- Textured ice, snow-covered areas, and spots with sand.
If you’ve been injured in a black ice car accident through no fault of your own, you may be owed compensation. Let our team see if we can help you recover it.
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