Black Ice: The Truth About The Transparent Killer
There you are, minding your own business, driving along Highway Ten. It's been freezing cold for weeks, but today it's finally warm enough to leave the Tauntaun home.
You're listening to Dave-O wax poetic about the Timberwolves blowing yet another 4th quarter lead during the Loon Morning Show's sports update. As you hear about the T-wolves' season quickly spinning out of control...your car begins to fishtail, then quickly starts to spin out of control. The road didn't have any snow on it, so what the heck happened?
Longtime Minnesotans (and upper midwesterners) know: you drove over a patch of black ice.
What is Black Ice?
First off: it's not black. The "black" comes from the color of the pavement. So...it could actually look grey. The black ice itself is transparent.
And that's the problem.
From MnDOT: "Black ice forms when the air temperature is warmer than pavement, which causes moisture to rapidly freeze and creates a thin, transparent layer of ice on the roadway."
That cold spell dropped the temperature of the pavement, and the warmer day raised the air temperature. Boom: black ice.
How To Stay Safe Around Black Ice
Know where black ice is most likely to form: bridges, tunnels, and overpasses are the most susceptible.
Know when black ice is most likely to form: early morning when air temp rises faster than the pavement temp.
Know how to drive during the winter: this is key. Say goodbye to summer driving habits. In winter driving conditions, do:
- put the phone down and don't drive distracted
- avoid using your cruise control
- drive a safe speed, which isn't necessarily the speed limit
- stay a safe distance from the car in front of you
- turn on your dang headlights
If you start to fishtail, DO NOT SLAM ON THE BRAKES. Don't floor the accelerator, either. Concentrate on regaining control of your direction.
Practice Driving in Slippery Conditions
A tip I was told in my younger days: practice regaining control of your spinning vehicle in a BIG vacant parking lot. It obviously has to be slick out, but if you can find a large, empty parking lot, drive around making yourself start to slide, then practice regaining control. Watch this, first:
And remember, Hoss: four-wheel drive does NOT mean four-wheel stop.
10 Awesome Driving Songs
Gallery Credit: Big Billy
Basic Driving Tips For Snow & Ice
Gallery Credit: Kelso
LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving
Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli