With holiday travel just around the corner, road conditions become even more pronounced to those travelling in colder weather from various parts of the country. With anything from sudden snowstorms, avalanches, wet and slick roads to black ice, the dangers abound when the weather changes in a heartbeat. Black ice is particularly threatening as it’s hard to see on the road, and sticks around even when the rest of the snow and ice have melted on the roadway.
Hitting a patch of black ice can mean accidents that range from minor adjusting of the wheel to propelling your car into another lane of oncoming traffic. How do you know there is black ice in the road, and is there anything you can do to avoid it or know it’s coming up on the road ahead?
When driving, be aware of areas that have melted off in some parts, and not on others. Roadways under bridges and overpasses can be places where black ice lives due to the infrequency of sun in those areas and the likelihood of those areas freezing more quickly. Roads that run close (or parallel to) a river or stream have the chance of freezing more than other areas. Knowing that part of the roadway have melted off may not be enough; also watch for unmelted ice on windows, windshields, signs and trees, or ice that has not melted at all. Those may be signs that black ice will be found on the road ahead. And, as it is often mistaken for simple moisture or a bright spot on the road, the dangers of back ice come suddenly and without warning causing cars to spin out of control, or worse, flip over.
Overconfidence is a culprit when it comes to driving in black ice. You don’t see it until you’re right upon it, and the rest of the roadway may be clear. You think that the driving up ahead will be incident free. When you find yourself on a patch of black ice, while you may not have time to think about it fully, train yourself to employ general safety tips when driving in cold weather: Don’t panic, turn in the direction of the skid and pump your brakes slowly.
Winter weather is just around the corner for many, and knowing how to drive safely in these areas will ensure that your travels will be safe for the holiday festivities in your future.