Black Ice – An Invisible Threat


With winter quickly approaching, black ice is on its way. This article has some safety tips which you can use to help you stay safe.

Sharon Childers

“Black Ice” results when the air temperature is warmer than that of the pavement. This causes moisture to rapidly freeze and create a thin, transparent layer of ice on the roadway, sidewalk or other surface. “Black Ice” is clear and appears to be black as the dark asphalt surface underneath shows through.

It will often form on heavily congested highways, but it may also form on roads or walkways that are situated in shaded areas, near lakes and rivers, in tunnels and on overpasses. As a result, vehicle collisions can occur along with slip and fall conditions for pedestrians. Injury and even death can result. “Black Ice” can result from snow, freezing rain, sleet, freezing fog, residual rainwater and/or groundwater, hail, man-made icy roads from breaks in outdoor sprinkler systems and water mains, and frost.

“Black Ice” can be treated with both salting and sanding, however, salt will lose its effectiveness at about 15 degrees and colder. For temperatures below 15 degrees, sand and de-icing liquids can be utilized to neutralize this condition.

From a statistical standpoint, freezing rain and resulting “Black Ice” kills more people than tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning and floods.

Safety Tips

• Wait for conditions to improve. The best way to avoid an accident or mishap is to stay off the roads and walkways until the threat passes.

• Pay attention to weather forecasts. An awareness of conditions will help you to be better prepared.

• Keep aware that “Black Ice” is nearly invisible.

• Exercise extreme care on bridges, overpasses and tunnels. Be particularly cautious during the early morning when the air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature.

• Maintain an adequate distance when driving. Maintain at least a three-car length distance from the vehicle directly in front of you. Use greater lengths at faster speeds.

• Never brake while driving on ice – this will cause your vehicle to skid. Brake only during your approach to a length of road that is iced over. ABS (anti-lock brakes) does not work well on ice and will often lock up your wheels as well.

• Turn into a slide – turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. Look with your eyes where you want the vehicle to go and turn the steering wheel in that direction.

• Be aware of other out-of-control vehicles in your immediate area.

Being cautious around and aware of “Black Ice” is no accident. Be safe. Take note of the topics and recommendations discussed in this bulletin. We encourage you to put them into practice – doing so helps ensure your safety. It is the philosophy of Frankenmuth Insurance and your Independent Insurance Agent to provide services that give policyholders peace of mind. At Frankenmuth Insurance, we truly are with you all the way.

This entry was posted in Articles & Information, Automobile, Safety. Bookmark the permalink.

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