What Is Black Ice and How to Safely Drive Through It
What is black ice?
Black ice is a thin, transparent coating of ice that can form on roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. It's called "black ice" because it easily blends into the surface. Black ice most commonly forms overnight or early in the morning, when the air temperature is around 32 degrees Fahrenheit and moisture on the ground freezes.
Why is it dangerous?
Black ice can be challenging to see while driving, especially at night. Drivers may not realize they are on black ice until they start experiencing unexpected traction loss while driving or braking.
Avoid driving in inclement winter weather if you can. Here are some tips if you have no choice.
How can I prepare for it?
- Check your tires – better tire treads increase your chances of regaining control on ice
- Be aware of the weather – know if a storm is in the forecast before you head out the door
- Allow more time – expect delays and slower-moving traffic due to inclement weather
How should I drive on it?
- Be aware of other drivers – if vehicles ahead of you are having difficulty, you may be entering an icy area
- Drive slowly – reduce your speed to allow for a better braking reaction
- Distance yourself – allow more space (about 7 seconds) between your vehicle and the one ahead
- Watch for trouble spots – bridges and overpasses are susceptible to black ice due to their elevation; so are roads below underpasses, shady areas, or at the bottom of a hill
What happens if my vehicle begins to skid?
- Slow down– slowly ease up on the gas; if you are driving manually, shift into a lower gear
- Resist hitting the brakes – it could lock them and cause your vehicle to skid more
- Keep your steering wheel straight – if your car begins to slide on the ice, gently steer in the direction of the skid; only accelerate once you've regained traction
- Collect yourself – pull over to relax if your experience unsettles you
NJM Insurance Group's Commitment to Safety
NJM's enduring commitment to safety can be traced back to our earliest days — with a focus that has expanded from improving conditions in manufacturing facilities to helping keep customers safe on the roads and at home. NJM is a leader in personal and commercial auto, homeowners, and workers' compensation insurance.
Gary Witzenberg, "How to Drive in Snow Safely," https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a25350719/how-to-drive-in-winter-snow-safely, (February 17, 2021).
Rick Kranz, "20 Tips for Driving in Snow," https://www.kbb.com/car-news/20-tips-for-safe-winter-driving, (November 22, 2021).