Black ice – what you need to know

Black ice – what you need to know

One of the most common hazards that you are going to encounter on the roads this winter is undoubtedly black ice, which can lead to numerous accidents, crashes and uncontrolled spins.

Black ice, often called clear ice, is a nearly-invisible sheet of ice on the road, typically formed by freezing ice suddenly warming up due to a slightly increased temperature – thereby turning any slush or snow into sheet ice.

The most common way to deice such dangers is to use rock salt and grit in an effort to melt the ice into liquid and simulate friction, ensuring better grip for tyres and less chance of skidding or sliding out of control. There are other precautions you could take such as fitting snow chains or snow socks to car tyres, but often it is as simple as driving slowly or more carefully.

However, this cannot always prevent accidents happening, as can be seen in this Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM2gLjfE

As you can see in the video, the tyres on the cars aren’t actually moving yet the cars are unable to stop before bumping into the car in front. This was probably a field day for their respective insurance companies, raking in claims from bad drivers damaging property or other cars!

On black ice, braking distance is massively altered and even with brakes applied, it can be difficult to bring the vehicle to a complete stop, particularly if the car is on an incline of any sort. This difficulty can often lead to pile-ups, rear-end collisions or even sliding off the road, which will in turn lead to repair costs, outdoor damages and possible injuries.

The best way to avoid getting yourself into any trouble on black ice is check local news reports, particularly if there are frost warnings, and if there are, look out for any warning signs. It is likely that you will see other cars driving slowly on black ice, so you should follow suit and take extra care.

Recommended advice for coping in weather such as this is to either invest in snow socks or snow chains, or simply avoid driving on such days – there may be public transport operating which will have been given priority on driving safely, or if it’s a short journey, simply walk there.

If you have to drive in icy conditions, make sure that you drive slowly and safely and avoid side-roads that have not been gritted or maintained in winter conditions, as these will prove to be the most dangerous.

Ice melting can present a serious danger to drivers so it’s a good idea to have a stash of salt packs to use on icy roads.