How to stay safe while driving over black ice

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) — Black ice is back in western Massachusetts.

“Usually if I’m out, if I do have to go out, I try to be very careful,” Judy Bouchard told 22News. “You know…because you just never know.”

That’s how some Pioneer Valley residents deal with black ice. They either avoid it whenever possible or take it slow.

Black ice is most common on roads in the early morning or late at night when temperatures are at their lowest.

Portions of road that don’t see much sun like along a line of trees or in a tunnel are hot spots for black ice, along with roads that aren’t too frequently traveled.

It’s also more common on bridges and overpasses.

This type of ice is called black ice because it is very thin and free of bubbles which makes it look almost identical to the pavement below it. And that’s what makes it so dangerous, it is very difficult to detect, especially at night.

During the day, if you see a smooth, glossy like a sheet on the road, that’s likely black ice.

The best practice for driving over it? Don’t overreact; let your car glide over the icy spot. Don’t hit the brakes like your instincts might tell you to, just let go of the accelerator, and try to keep the steering wheel as straight as you can.

“Go extremely slow, be careful, and stay a good distance from the car in front of you. So in case you do slide, you won’t cause an accident or you won’t cause damage to your car,” Bouchard explained. 

If your car starts slipping left or right, don’t try to overcorrect in the opposite direction, as this can cause you to spin out.

It helps to instead make a gentle turn in the direction your car is slipping to try to regain traction. Other good practices include keeping your windshield clear so you have a complete view of the road, turning your headlights on, and making sure your tires have enough tread. 

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