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How to Drive Safely on Black Ice

According to the Federal Highway Administration, on average, over 150,000 crashes occur every year due to icy pavements. While not every icy pavement is covered in black ice, black ice is a particularly dangerous road hazard because it is invisible. This is why it’s important to take the following precautions when driving on black ice.

Be on the lookout

While it’s extremely difficult to spot black ice, keeping an eye on the temperature and time of day will help you stay aware of the risk. Whenever temps hit 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, black ice is very likely! The “puddles of water” you see on the pavement could actually be black ice, so it’s best to treat them as such.

Adjust your speed

Your tires have zero traction on black ice, so it’s important to not rely on them to keep you safe. Your wheels are no better than ice skates on an ice-skating rink: if you don’t drive slowly and cautiously, you could spin out and crash.

No sudden movements

In addition to driving slowly, you’ll also want to ease into things like turns and stops. Don’t slam on the breaks or whip your wheel into a turn, simply take your time. Try to avoid braking as much as possible. If you do need to brake, pump the brakes instead. Turn the steering wheel slowly. If you see a patch of black ice on the road, drive around it or position your wheels so that your tires drive on either side of it.

Remain calm

If you lose control on black ice, resist the urge to panic. Again, don’t break or turn suddenly! Stay calm and follow these steps:

  • If you have anti-lock braking system (ABS), just put your foot on the brake, apply
    firm pressure and the car will pump the brakes for you as you skid.
  • If you don’t have ABS, pump the brakes gently as you skid.
  • Always steer the car in the direction you want the car to go.

Source: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd488148.pdf

Good drivers ignore peer pressure and prioritize safety.

It is easy to feel pressured to drive faster or more daring when other drivers ride your bumper, you’re running late, or friends tease you that you drive like an old person. Prioritize you and your passengers’ safety first, and don’t let the snide comments get you down! You have the power to decide how safe you drive–stick to your guns and take as many precautions as you need to in order to arrive safe and sound!

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