What is black ice?
Black ice is a thin, clear layer of ice which is often mistaken for a wet road surface. Black ice is present when rainwater falls in freezing conditions and either freezes whilst falling, or it freezes upon contact with the road to form a sheet of clear ice with few imperfections. Driving on black ice can be a real worry for alot of drivers.
Why is black ice such a worry for drivers?
Whilst all ice is very dangerous to drive in, black ice is especially dangerous. This is because it’s extremely difficult to see. Drivers often find themselves on a very slippery patch of road completely unprepared.
When to expect black ice
You need to be prepared and expect black ice at any time when the temperature is around freezing point (0°C or 32°F). Black ice is most common during early morning or late evening; as it hasn’t had a chance to be melted by the sun.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and before you start your journey look at the pavement and the road around you and see how slippery it is. Whilst this isn’t a definitive judgement of your whole journey it may help.
Be extra cautious and avoid if possible journeys which include roads which are protected from the sun such as shaded by trees or bridges. If the sun hasn’t hit these spots the chances are the ice will remain unmelted here.
What to do when driving on black ice
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if you hit a patch of black ice besides remain calm, cautious and let your vehicle pass over. The ice surface is so smooth your tyres will have little to no traction; with a braking distance of around 9 times further than in normal conditions*. Keep both hands on the wheel, take your foot off the accelerator and don’t slam on your breaks.
The best cause of action is to avoid driving in freezing conditions where possible and always drive at a sensible speed.
Unless your journey is critical, don’t drive.