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Black Ice Threat Throughout Duration of Winter

a car drives past a sign that says "ice on bridge"

Even on a sunny, dry day, motorists should beware of black ice if the temperatures are low enough. While black ice most commonly forms from precipitation or winter weather, it can also occur from other situations as well.

Anything that involves water can get a spot on the road wet, which will then freeze if in the proper conditions (freezing temperatures, shady area or raised off the ground). Something as random as a fire hydrant leak or runoff from a car wash can puddle on the road and turn into black ice – throwing off drivers who think they are in the clear because the weather is nice.

The most dangerous part of black ice is that it is basically invisible, which is why Fremont Insurance warns motorists to be prepared to have to stop on black ice anytime the temperature is cold enough.

The conditions for black ice are best:

  • Between sunset and sunrise – when temperatures are the lowest.
  • In shaded areas or tree-covered parts of the roadway due to lack of sunlight.
  • After a rain/snow storm, even many days later if the wetness sticks around.
  • On bridges and overpasses because that part of the road is elevated off the ground and thus does not stay as warm.
  • After a heavy dew or fog, if the temperatures are low enough.

What to do if you Encounter Black Ice While Driving:

  • Be aware of and on the lookout for black ice. Pavement with black ice will be a little darker and duller than the rest of the road surface. It commonly forms on highly shaded areas, infrequently traveled roads and on bridges and overpasses.
  • Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Although the roadway leading up to a bridge may appear to be fine, use caution because the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • Slow down. Drive, turn and brake slowly. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Give yourself three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Be alert of traffic ahead. Slow down at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways cars or emergency flashers ahead.
  • Never use cruise control.
  • Avoid braking on ice. If you’re approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Control the skid. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will throw your car into a skid.
  • Control the skid. In the event that your car is skidding, ease off the accelerator or brake and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
  • Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes. It increases your chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Be sure to have a winter weather kit in your car. The kit should include an ice scraper, a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel, cloth/paper towels and a fully charged cellphone.

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