Tips for staying safe on black ice

When it comes to winter driving, there are few dangers that are as fabled and troublesome to motorists as black ice. This dastardly road hazard lies in wait, virtually undetectable until it’s too late, making it particularly dangerous, especially to drivers who don’t know to look out for it.

As a limo operator, you’re responsible for ensuring your drivers and passengers stay safe, which means you need to be an expert on black ice avoidance. Here are some tips to help keep your black cars safe from black ice.

Know the conditions
Black ice is so named because of its near-invisible appearance on roads. It’s formed when a thin, transparent layer of ice forms on the surface of asphalt or concrete. The thinness of the ice keeps it transparent, and thus very difficult to see.

The key thing to keep in mind about black ice is that it’s at its most threatening when road conditions are hovering just around the freezing point. Because well-traveled roads are constantly heated by the tires of passing traffic, this means that you’re most likely to find black ice early in the morning or late at night. During these periods, not only is traffic much lighter, but the absence of direct sunlight also contributes to lower temperatures on the road.

It’s worth noting that any area that is shaded from direct sun is more susceptible to black ice, as are bridges. This is because cold air can affect the pavement from both above and below the surface, bringing the temperature down faster.

Black ice can be nearly impossible to spot on the road.

Black ice can be nearly impossible to spot on the road.

 

Know what to look for
It’s very difficult to see black ice – that’s what makes it so dangerous. However, if you know what to look for, it may be possible to spot some telltale indicators of this hazard early, giving you extra opportunity to react properly.

The most significant sign to look for is the appearance of a glossy patch on the road. Especially if the road you’re on is primarily a dull asphalt color, a sudden shiny patch, especially if the temperature is below freezing, may be a clear sign that you’re approaching black ice.

Use your brakes properly
Avoiding and surviving black ice means you have to be in impeccable control of your car. This is a good time to have the brakes in all your cars checked and updated if necessary, as they’re going to be one of the most important safety features at your disposal.

When navigating icy roads, use proper braking technique to stay safe. Edmunds recommended what is called the “stomp, stay, steer” method. This involves stomping on the brake pedal as hard as you can – don’t pump the brakes in cars with ABS features. Keep the pedal depressed as long as you can while you steer your way out of danger.