Dangers of Black Ice - One of Winter's Biggest Weather Hazards
With so much of North America covered in ice and snow this week, and another multi car accident closing down parts of Ontario's Highway 400 today, I think it's worth mentioning the dangers of black ice on the roadways. Listed are some safety precautions to take while driving in this kind of weather.
For certain, one of the most dangerous weather conditions this time of the year, mainly because it is so difficult to spot, is black ice. It has sent many a motorist skidding on what they thought was a dry road or pedestrian tumbling onto a hard surface which appeared to be ice free.
Actually, the term "black ice" is kind of a misnomer, said Jon Pacheco of State College, Pa., a meteorologist for AccuWeather.
The ice is not black in colour, but rather is transparent, said Pacheco. What you are seeing is not the ice, but the road surface beneath it.
This makes it extra dangerous because the driver or walker is not even aware it is ice until they or their car is on top of it, said the AccuWeather spokesman. He said that is because the road looks wet, not icy.
Evans says vehicle operators can minimize the risk of a black-ice related accident by following a few precautions:
Leave early enough that you are not rushed to get to your destination.
Slow down, drive cautiously, and don't over-estimate the safety of road conditions.
Don't tailgate. Be sure to leave at least 100 feet between your vehicle and the one in front of you. That extra car length may be critical if you lose traction and can't stop your vehicle.
Anticipate traffic lights and intersections. Give yourself extra time and longer distances to slow down.
Pump your brakes gently. If your vehicle is equipped with an ABS braking system, apply light but steady pressure on your brake pedal.
Make smooth steering movements, not jerky turns. If your car begins to slide or spin, turn your wheel in the direction of the spin, which should help steer your vehicle back on the right track.