The winter season brings many hazards for drivers, including icy roads that increase the likelihood of a crash. Black ice is especially dangerous for Washington drivers because it can be difficult to see.
Learning about black ice can help people drive more safely this winter.
Spotting black ice
The term black ice refers to thin, clear layers of ice that are difficult to notice on sidewalks and pavement. Black ice tends to form when there is rain or sleet at temperatures near freezing. Rain forms black ice when it comes into contact with the cold ground. Black ice can also arise from runoff from melting snow.
Black ice often forms in shaded areas that receive less sunlight. During the day, black ice may appear dark and glossy. However, at night black ice on the road can be hard to see and may resemble wet pavement.
Winter road safety
First, it is important for drivers to take notice of areas with black ice while driving. A stretch of road that appears wet but does not produce any water spray could contain black ice. If possible, drivers can choose alternate routes to avoid areas with patches of black ice.
When a driver encounters black ice, it is important to remain calm and avoid sudden turns. Drivers should not try to accelerate but, instead, glide past the ice. If a car encounters skidding, the driver should use the anti-lock brake system.
Black ice is dangerous because it is difficult to see, especially at night. Drivers in Washington should practice road safety and know the signs of black ice.