GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Winter driving isn’t only about dealing with snow. Ice on the road is a real threat.
Black ice, in particular, is dangerous because it’s invisible (the term “black ice” being somewhat of a misnomer). However, you can better protect yourself by understanding and knowing how to deal with this winter issue.
1. Understand that black ice is like regular ice.
Black ice is a glaze that forms on surfaces (especially roads, sidewalks, and driveways) because of a light freezing rain, fog or because of melting and re-freezing of snow, water, or ice on surfaces. It’s called “black ice” because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road, although in reality, it’s actually clear.
Black ice forms without creating bubbles, which allows it to blend in with any surface it forms over. Black ice is dangerous because it’s very difficult to detect in advance. Being aware and adjusting your speed and driving behavior can reduce the risk of being involved in a serious accident due to black ice.
2. Know where to expect black ice.
Black ice usually forms just about the freezing point, though not all inclusive here are some area’s to consider. Sometimes in frigid weather conditions on highways, black ice will form due to the heat of tires on the road coupled with the freezing temperature. Keep an eye on the weather and highway reports.
3. Know when to expect black ice.
Black ice tends to form in the early morning and evening. During the daylight hours, the road is usually warmer and less likely to create black ice. But remember: less likely does not mean “never”. Always be prepared for the possibility of encountering black ice.
4. Know how to see black ice – sometimes.
While black ice is transparent, it can sometimes be seen in the right lighting conditions — if you are looking for it.
Black ice almost always forms in very smooth, very glossy sheets. This glossy surface is your indication of potential black ice. If the majority of the road you’re driving on appears a dull black color, but the patch just ahead of you appears shiny, you may be about to drive onto black ice. Don’t panic. Follow the instructions below.
5. Prevent or minimize future encounters with black ice.
Here are a few additional tips to remember during times of increased potential for black ice. While knowing how to drive on it remains a number one priority, here are some other things to do: