What is “Black Ice” and why is it such a serious hazard?

Winter is a tough time to stay safe on the roads, especially in Ottawa. Almost 30% of car accidents in the nation happen on snowy or icy roads and only five percent of those accidents happen during snowfall. More than 50,000 accidents that occur each year are due to following precipitation and the resulting icy conditions.

Black ice can be extremely dangerous for unexpecting drivers. It is important to know what it is and how you should react if you happen to encounter black ice on the roadways. This type of ice on the road is a bit more perilous than ordinary icy roads because it is extremely fine and difficult to see while driving. Black ice isn’t actually black—it’s clear. Black ice gets its name because when it forms, it is thin and translucent. Because of this, the pavement’s dark colour and texture show through leaving the surface looking nothing more than a bit wet.

­­­How exactly is black ice formed on the roads?
Canadians are no stranger to ice on roads and walkways throughout the winter. However, black ice forms a bit differently on the roads than ordinary ice. If the weather changes after a snowfall where the sun comes out during the day or temperature rises above freezing, any of the snow on the ground will slowly begin to melt and cause road surfaces to become wet. If the temperature then drops below freezing while the ground is still dampened with water, black ice will likely form on paved surfaces due to the refreezing.
Wetness on the ground also caused by rain during the day can quietly transform into a thin, crystalline layer of black ice during the night. Common places to pay close attention to include bridges, overpasses, and spots on the that are shaded by large objects—all which can insidiously camouflage black ice.

How can I prevent running into Black Ice?
Roadways become extremely sleek when black ice forms, leading to hazardous driving conditions and an increased risk of car accidents. While you can’t exactly prevent a random encounter with black Ice, there are steps you can take to make sure that you will have the best odds at not losing control of your vehicle or causing any serious damage.

  • Make sure that your car well maintained. The best thing you can do is be prepared. Having the right tires on you vehicle will help you have more control over your vehicle even when roads are icy– the more control you have, the higher your chances of keeping yourself safe in case of an unforeseen emergency. Regular preventative maintenance can help to make sure that no sudden accidents will push your vehicle pasts it’s limits. Luckily, our service department here at Ontario Hyundai,  can easily schedule your maintenance online HERE.
  • Understand where and how Black Ice forms. Knowing is half the battle. If you remain aware of your surroundings when you suspect there may be black ice on the ground, you can make intelligent decisions while driving.
  • Keep your distance from other drivers—because the reality is, they might not be as smart or prepared as you are. Luckily, you understand how dangerous black ice on the road can be and how to take precautions to prevent collisions. However, not everyone will understand how treacherous these conditions can be, and there will almost always be accidents. Keeping your distance from other drivers will increase your odds of not being swept up in another driver’s mistake.
  • Drive slowly. We all have places to be, but nothing is ever more valuable than your safety and the safety of others. Take your time getting where you need to go when roads are sleek with ice or try to stay home until conditions are a little less risky.