Don’t Let Caution Slide While Driving on Ice

Don't let caution slide Driving in winter weather is no easy task. Navigating across black ice can be even more perilous as it’s sometimes overlooked as a potential life-threatening danger. Use the following tips to help keep yourself and loved ones safe when encountering the slick hazard.

  • Hone your awareness: Your best bet is to learn when and where you’re likely to encounter black ice. It’s nearly invisible because it’s transparent. It forms in thin sheets without the air bubbles that give normal ice its distinctive appearance. It typically forms right around the freezing point, most commonly at night or in the early morning, and you’ll often find it on parts of the road that don’t get much sun. Bridges, overpasses and underpasses are likely spots for black ice. Watch for a slight sheen or subtle discolorations in the road ahead during winter driving.
  • Slow down: Gently decelerate by taking your foot off the gas pedal if you hit an icy stretch. Black ice usually forms in fairly short, patchy sheets, so reduce power and gently pass over them.
  • Remain calm: It’s tempting to slam on the brakes or turn sharply when you feel your wheels starting to slide. Icy conditions greatly reduce the friction between your tires and the road, so aggressive maneuvers actually increase the chance of losing control completely. Keep your reactions feather-light and gentle if you feel ice under your vehicle.
  • Avoid hard braking: It’s better to not even touch your brakes on black ice if you can avoid it. If you have to brake, lightly tap the brake pedal repeatedly to avoid starting a potentially fatal slide.
  • Downshift: A safer way to reduce speed on ice is to use your transmission instead of your brakes. Shift your vehicle into low gear to slow down gradually.
  • Keep your distance: An icy road is NOT the place to tailgate. Tailgating is dangerous under any conditions, but ice requires even more stopping space than dry asphalt. Try to leave at least 200 feet between yourself and other vehicles. Driving on black ice means you can’t do anything quickly, including stopping.
  • Turn into a slide: If you start to slide, turn the steering wheel in the same direction the rear of your car is sliding. It sounds counter-intuitive, but turning WITH a slide actually helps regain control much more quickly.
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