As the new “Game of Thrones” promos say: winter is here! For New Yorkers, this means trekking through the snow-covered city streets, packing on as many layers as humanly possible, and cranking up space heaters to the max.
This nearly unbearable time of year gets even worse with the appearance of black ice, the thin and transparent coating of ice that can be found on paved roads. Since it blends in with the pavement, black ice can be very difficult to spot. That’s why we would like to share with our fellow New Yorkers a few important tips for navigating black ice.
First, you should know how to identify black ice. It will be slightly darker and more reflective than the rest of the road. While a road may seem fine to drive on because the snow has been plowed, there still could be black ice lingering.
Roads on bridges and overpasses are often the first to freeze and the last to thaw. Keep this in mind and take it extra slow while driving over these structures.
Black ice is very good at disguising itself. One surefire way to avert an accident is by taking it slow. You can determine how slow based on the condition of the roads. Drive especially slow around turns to avoid spinning out of control. Avoid any abrupt braking and allow for extra space between your car and the car in front of you. If you brake too fast, you could end up sliding into the car ahead.
While cruise control is a convenient feature, it will make it difficult to avoid black ice if it suddenly appears in your path. Avoid using this feature in winter weather.
Driving behind a slow driver can be infuriating. We know. But no matter how much of a time crunch you’re in, avoid continuous lane changes. If you happen to hit a patch of black ice that is located between lanes, you will risk losing control of your vehicle.
Winter weather conditions can make it very difficult to see not only black ice, but also other drivers. Stay alert while driving, avoiding any unnecessary distractions from your cell phone or other passengers. Also be sure to slow down whenever you see any flashing lights or cars on the side of the road.
You don’t want to brake on black ice, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If your car begins to skid, you can regain control by gradually releasing your foot from the brake and steering into the skid. If possible, apply the brakes before you drive over the black ice.
If you are skidding while driving a vehicle with an ABS (anti-lock braking system), keep your foot on the brake the entire time. The wheels will lock and you will begin to feel the brake pedal vibrate. This is normal. This is how the ABS operates. Do not pump the pedal or take your foot off the brake.
If your car does not have an ABS, the ideal tactic to utilize is “threshold braking,” which involves using the ball of your foot to apply steady pressure to the brake pedal while keeping your heel on the car floor.
To ensure you have an unobstructed view of the road, and to keep other drivers on the road safe, always remove snow and ice from the windshield, hood and roof before driving. Don’t simply remove enough to allow yourself to see out of your windshield. Remove all of the snow so that none of it can fly off while driving.
Among the most important tips for navigating black ice is having safety equipment on hand in case you’re in a wreck. Plan for the worst. This equipment can include an ice scraper, a flashlight, jumper cables, a snow shovel, a cloth and a blanket.
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