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Black ice can form in many ways but the most common way is from melting snow on or beside the road. After a winter storm, when temperatures climb above freezing during the day, snow will melt into water. Add another sharp dip in temperatures later in the afternoon or during the night and any standing water will freeze into black ice. Bridges and overpasses cool from above and below and freeze much faster than other parts of the road. Even water vapour from rivers and streams can, under the right conditions, freeze into black ice on the roadway.

Identifying black ice

What to do if you hit black ice. Stay calm. Instead, ease off the gas pedal and if you can — shift into a lower gear to gain more control.

Too Many Zooz - Black Ice (Official Video)

Steer the car in the direction you want it to go. If you have to brake, try to brake as little as possible. Another tip while driving during winter conditions — avoid cruise control. Using cruise can actually make you lose control. Not a good thing. If they see conditions in the forecast that can create black ice, they hit the road with a variety of anti-icing tools to battle it including: salt and sand — even beet juice!

Pain, Meet Your Patch!

So, there you have it: black ice de-mystified. Do you have a question about this or any other transportation related topic? Let us know in the comments below.


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  • Our maintenance contractors across the province monitor weather and road conditions and work proactively with sand and de-icing agents to keep BC highways safe for all travellers. I hit black ice recently and within seconds shot across the hwy.

    I managed to get the car under control after crossing the centre line several times. So should I have applied my brakes. I do have a with ABS brakes? Braking should be avoided if at all possible. It sounds like you were able to regain control of your vehicle which we were glad to hear. Taking your foot off the gas steering the car in the direction you want it to go are the best steps to take.

    The advice on what to do if you encounter black ice is confusing. The first piece of advice advises the driver not to touch the brakes, while the second piece discusses the proper use of anti-lock brakes and black ice. Since every car sold for the past several years must be equipped with ABS braking systems, I think the advice of not touching the brakes, which applies to old style purely manual brakes, has become outdated.

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    Black Ice: What It Is and How to Handle It | TranBC

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    Definition of black ice. Examples of black ice in a Sentence Drivers should beware of black ice. Recent Examples on the Web Conditions will be dry into the evening, however, any roads which were unable to dry before freezing will remain slick during the overnight hours. Patches of black ice are possible through Friday morning.

    Freezing rain likely to cause travel headaches Monday evening.

    The Black Ice (1993)

    First Known Use of black ice , in the meaning defined above. Learn More about black ice. Resources for black ice Time Traveler! Explore the year a word first appeared.