As temperatures drop with the arrival of winter weather, the threat of black ice returns on roadways. This deceptive and stealthy road hazard poses a significant danger to driver safety and can lead to serious accidents.
Drivers should understand the basics of black ice and how to mitigate its risks.
The basics of black ice
Black ice refers to a thin layer of ice on the road surface. This ice is so thin that it becomes nearly undetectable because it blends with the color of the pavement. As a result, drivers face a hazard that they may not even see, creating a significant risk of accidents.
The dangers of black ice
Black ice significantly reduces the traction between your tires and the road, increasing the risk of sliding or losing control. The near-invisible appearance makes it difficult to spot, catching many drivers off-guard with little time to react and avoid disaster.
Braking on black ice surfaces requires a longer stopping distance because of the reduced friction. This further increases the risk of accidents in traffic.
The keys to safe winter driving
Monitor the weather forecasts and road conditions before you head out so that you know what to expect. Reduce your speed in icy conditions and maintain an extended following distance so that you have room to brake safely.
You can improve your car’s handling through the winter with winter tires. The design of winter tires helps improve traction on snowy and icy surfaces. Even with winter tires, avoid any sudden movements behind the wheel. Steer, accelerate and brake smoothly to reduce your risk of skidding on black ice. Finally, remember that bridges, overpasses and shaded areas freeze before other spaces, so exercise extra caution in those areas.
There were 3,598 traffic accidents in Kentucky in 2021 resulting from icy or snowy road conditions. Mindful driving habits make a difference in these environments.