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Tips for Driving on Black Ice

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of Cleveland drivers like black ice.

What do you do when you are driving and encounter black ice?

It’s rush hour. You just want to get home. After wasting half a tank of gas in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-480, you get off at your exit and figure you’ll cut some time off of your drive by taking the backroads. Your heater is on full blast. You’ve got the radio volume all the way up, and they are talking about yet another Browns loss. You see some snow on the side of the road, but you are so busy being mad at what the radio host is saying that you stop paying complete attention to the road.

That’s when it happens.

Anyone who has ever hit black ice knows the feeling. It only takes a second. You feel your car surge ahead, but you didn’t hit the gas. As soon as you feel the shift in speed, you instinctively jerk the wheel and realize your car isn’t going in the direction you want it to. With any luck, you are still facing the direction you intend to travel in and you are safe. But cars often hit black ice and spin into oncoming cars, guard rails, and telephone poles. It is terrifying and one of those experiences that you never forget.

So, what do you do? Rad Air values our customers, and we want you to be safe all winter long. Here are some tips we have to help you in an encounter with black ice:

Tip 1: Know the places where you are more likely to encounter it.

Bridges, overpasses, and the bottoms of hills are all places where you are likely to run into black ice.

Tip 2: How will you know it’s there?

That’s the tough part. Most of the time, you won’t. Black ice is not really black – it’s clear. It’s hard to see because it doesn’t show up on top of the asphalt or concrete, so it’s hard to spot. With that said, there are some giveaways to help you see it. It is often a darker color than the rest of the road. At night, black ice will also appear duller. During the day, it is shinier as the light hits it. 

Tip 3: Pay attention to the cars in front of you.

It goes without saying that you don’t want to tailgate, especially under icy conditions. Give yourself space and then watch what unfolds. If you see the cars in front of you struggling, use caution. Also, if the road appears wet and the tires are spraying water, you are probably safe from black ice. If it appears dry, watch for the spots that are dark – there could be black ice there. 

Tip 4: What do you do when you can’t see it in time?

If you hit black ice and feel yourself start to slide, the number one thing to remember is not to panic. That’s easier said than done, but you will have a much higher chance of coming out unscathed if you remain in control. Take your foot off the accelerator and do not touch the brakes. Do not make jerking motions with the wheel. Slight corrections are okay, and if you have the wherewithal, slightly steer with the direction you are sliding in. The deceleration, coupled with a steady hand, can guide you out of harm’s way.

Tip 5: Lay off the cruise control.

We all love the comfort of not having to hit the gas and brake, but in conditions where black ice can exist, this can be dangerous. You need to remain focused on the road and in control of your vehicle. 

There’s another thing you can do, and we’d be glad to help you with it! Think about getting your winter tires on. The deep treads and soft rubber of a winter weather tire can help you get traction on treacherous winter roads. Don’t wait until you lose control. Make an appointment with your neighborhood Rad Air Car Center today and get your vehicle ready for black ice season.

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