What Do You Do When Your Car Hits a Patch of Black Ice?

Motor City Car Guy

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wet road, snow, and treesPhoto by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

With cold weather and wet pavement comes black ice. Sometimes a road that only looks wet and shiny is actually black ice in disguise.

Black ice occurs when wet pavement freezes. It looks like the pavement is only wet, but it's slick as an ice rink.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to know for sure when to expect black ice, but you can make an educated guess about when black ice is more likely to occur.

Black ice is especially common when it gets just around the freezing point and no sunlight to warm the pavement. So, be especially careful when the sun is hidden, like around tree-lined roads and when it's dark outside.

Common locations for black ice are in tunnels, parking lots, and especially on overpasses. But of course, black ice can crop up just about anywhere.

So, what do you do if you hit a patch of black ice while driving?

Experts recommend that you remain calm and don't overreact. Of course, this can be easier said than done, so let me help you out with this a little bit.

First, don't panic by slamming on the brakes. That might be your natural reaction, but don't follow your instincts in this case. Instead, take your foot off the gas to slow your vehicle, and let your car travel over the ice while keeping the steering wheel straight.

Now, what if you do everything like you are supposed to, and your car starts sliding. Well, if the back end of your vehicle starts sliding to the left or right, then steer very gently in the direction that your back end is sliding. Go with the flow.

Now, what if you still haven't regained control and your car starts to skid? Your vehicle should be traveling slow enough to firmly apply the brakes by this time. If you have ABS (anti-lock braking system), you don't need to pump your brakes; ABS will do that for you. If you don't have ABS, you will need to gently pump the brakes while you skid. Continue to steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go and ideally where there will be the least damage, such as into a pile of snow instead of another car.

This is what the experts say to do. It's a lot to remember, especially if your car is whipping all over the road.

The best solution is to be cautious and avoid an encounter with black ice in the first place if possible. I like to assume that all wet pavement is black ice when it's cold enough to freeze, and I avoid it like the plague. If I find myself on black ice anyway, I'm prepared for the worst by following expert advice.

Remember, be careful out there.

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