The thin coating of transparent ice that compromises traction for even the most capable vehicles can be as hard to spot as it is hard to avoid in late winter.
Don’t let black ice get in the way of your travel plans this year. Equip yourself with the knowledge to drive safe and smart so that slippery conditions won’t compromise your next outing, your safety, or your vehicle’s longevity.
1. Know what to look for
Black ice, caused when light rain or drizzle falls onto pavement that’s temperature is below freezing, can easily be mistaken for new asphalt or puddles of water. Look for dark, glossy patches up ahead on the road that appear slightly wet.
Be extra alert when driving on tree-covered stretches of roads and driveways, as a lack of direct sunlight can make black ice more likely to form. Bridges and overpasses also tend to be affected as a result of cold air circulation passing above and below.
2. Stay informed, plan your trip accordingly
Make a habit of checking weather and road reports before travelling, especially after winter storms. The peak time for black ice to form is just after a winter storm has cleared up, when the warmer air melts the snow and brings moisture into direct contact with still-freezing pavement.
Be extra cautious in the morning and early evening, when temperatures are lowest. Travel is ideal during the day, when the sun is out and ice melts and roads become less slick. If possible, limit travel at peak hazard times and take extra precaution when driving at night, when visibility is low.
3. Prepare your vehicle
Equipping your vehicle with four winter tires increases your breaking distance up to 25% – an investment that buys you time to be more alert on the road. By preventing snow build-up and maintaining traction on icy roads, winter tires could mean the difference between a safe trip and a collision.
Winter tires won’t just keep you safe; they’ll also save you money. At DGI Direct, we reward drivers who equip their vehicles with four winter tires with a 5% savings on their auto insurance. Keep your vehicle winter-ready with regular maintenance check-ups, and remember to check the air pressure of your tires frequently.
4. Don’t underestimate the advantage of driving slow
Driving at reduced speeds is the best precautionary measure against slippage. Knowing how your car responds to various weather conditions is important.
Practice slow-speed maneuvers in ice-covered parking lots before taking a big trip, and if you happen to be driving a new vehicle, take a look through your owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s braking system and other features.
When driving, focus your attention on the road up ahead, keeping at least 8–10 seconds of space between your front bumper and the car in front of you (about two car lengths).
5. Be confident
Confident driving means operating your vehicle with conviction. Execute smooth, precise movements of the steering wheel and gas and brake pedals, and in the event that you hit a patch of black ice, resist the knee-jerk reaction to slam on the breaks.
As soon as your car begins to slide on black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal. It is important to slow down when driving on black ice, as with any other winter road conditions.
Remember, your car’s most important safety feature is the driver. Trust yourself and your vehicle. When you make safe driving, diligent maintenance, and reliable car insurance a priority, you can be confident when faced with all of winter’s driving perils.