Black ice is one of the drawbacks of winter driving and one every driver must be aware of. Most of us have had the experience of driving on a cold winter day when suddenly our vehicle may began to slide or we may feel as if we are losing control. We might be surprised at this because it is not snowing or sleeting and the roads look perfectly fine. What you have just experienced is driving on black ice, one of the most dangerous road conditions you will ever encounter. Drivers and passengers alike lose their lives each winter because of the condition know as black ice and it behooves every driver to know what black ice is and how to spot it.
How is black ice formed and what makes it so dangerous? Black ice is transparent which is why it is sometimes referred to as clear ice. Hence the term black ice is not really the correct description for this type of ice. What makes this ice so dangerous is that you can see through it to the road surface below. Therefore drivers have little advanced warning that they are actually driving on black ice until they began to lose control of their vehicle or they try to come to a stop.
It is a common misconception that it must be below freezing for black ice to form. Black ice can actually form even if the air temperature is a few degrees above freezing. As long as the temperature of the road way surface is several degrees below freezing black ice can be present and cause very dangerous driving conditions. This is especially true where the road way is elevated such as over a bridge or overpass.
So what can a responsible driver do to avoid the pitfalls of black ice? The first thing a driver must due is be aware that black ice is on the roadway or has a chance of forming. Your local weather station will let you know what conditions are like at present and what they will be like in the near future. They will usually be able to give you ample warning if there is a chance for black ice to form. You can also do your part by being aware of the driving conditions around you. If it is close to freezing and there is sleet or freezing rain falling this should be let you know you need to slow down and be very cautious. Even if it has been above freezing but has been raining and the temperature drops quickly below the freezing mark black ice could be forming while you are driving so slow down. You must also be alert to other drivers on the road who may not be aware of what is happening.
Winter driving requires extra precautions if the weather turns bad. If at all possible avoid driving during dangerous conditions. But if you must get out and drive watch out for weather events such as black ice, be alert to road conditions and you should arrive at your destination safely.