How to Spot Black Ice this Winter

When winter weather hits, you’re at the mercy of your vehicle, the road and the ice. Winter in Wisconsin brings many driving dangers, however the deadliest of them being Black Ice. According to the Wisconsin DOT, there are, on average, 20,000 motor vehicle crashes each winter season within the state. Road conditions can quickly deteriorate as snow, ice, freezing rain, slush and black ice creates danger for every driver. All drivers need to take extra precautions when driving, especially when dangerous conditions such as Black Ice exist.  

What is Black Ice? 

Black Ice is a road condition that occurs when freezing rain, sleet, or rain falls on frozen ground. With the air at or below 32 degrees, low ground temp causes freezing on impact. However, sleet and freezing run off can also generate black ice. The term black ice comes from the ability to blend in with the ground and surroundings, although, it’s actually clear. It’s important for drivers to be aware of the when, and where it forms, most often between sunset and sunrise when temps are at their lowest. In the mornings, it will look like a glossy wet surface around shaded areas, as well as on bridges and overpasses. Now at night, spots will look much duller and slightly darker.  

Follow these tips for spotting black ice:

  1. Use your car temp as a gauge to determine road conditions. Air at or below 32 degrees is a danger zone 
  2. Look at pavement before leaving. If the pavement is dry but you are seeing spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, there is probably going to be black ice.  
  3. Watch cars in front of you. Watch other vehicle tires. If tires spray with wet conditions – No Black Ice. If tires do not spray – Beware of Black Ice 

What to do if you hit back ice

  1. Lift foot off the accelerator but DO NOT hit the brakes 
  2. Braking will lock the wheels and you will drift further.  
  3. Hold the steering wheel steady and make small corrections if possible.  
  4. Drive extra carefully  
  5. Do not use cruise control 

Always remember to stay calm and let your vehicle pass over it!  

Alert today – Alive tomorrow.  

Review your car insurance policy with your local Rural Mutual Insurance agent to make sure you’re properly protected this winter. Also check out these great tips for winter car maintenance.