Black Ice Awareness

Incidents involving motor vehicles are the leading cause of work-related deaths, according to the 2013 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” During the winter, one hazard to be mindful of when behind the wheel is black ice. Black ice – which can be almost invisible – forms when the air temperature is warmer than pavement, which causes moisture to rapidly freeze and create a thin, transparent layer of ice on the roadway.

Explain Hazards

Black ice is a transparent coating of ice on a roadway. Black ice will cause you to skid and lose control of your vehicle.

  • Black ice is transparent and matches the color of the road, making it difficult to detect
  • Black ice gives you less reaction time to control skids
  • Black ice will form early in the morning, in the evenings, and on cloudy days when the sun is not shining to warm the road
  • Black ice will form easily on bridges
  • Daylight hours are reduced in winter - detecting black ice is difficult
  • Freezing rain and wind will readily form black ice on roadways

Identify Controls

  • When temperatures drop near or below free take your time and drive with caution
  • If you encounter black ice on the road reduce your speed significantly and be aware of oncoming traffic
  • Plan your journey ahead of time, check the road conditions on a road conditions website, listen to the radio for black ice and/or slippery road alerts
  • Avoid traveling whenever possible when road and weather warnings are issued
  • Travel during daylight hours whenever possible
  • If you see a vehicle in front of you suddenly swerve for no apparent reason, be prepared for black ice
  • At a slow speed, test road conditions by gently applying brakes
  • Winter tires are an asset. The tread patterns have added depth which help with icy road conditions

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail...