Black ice

warning sign about the snowfall on the snowy road

There has been a lot of social media coverage on trucking pages lately regarding black ice. Black ice is one of the worst driving conditions you will ever encounter. Fortunately the conditions necessary for the formation of black ice very specific, making it fairly uncommon, but when those conditions occur it’s not a pretty picture. Black ice is so slippery, you can be parked, and the wind can blow you sideways. If you’re unlucky enough to be driving on black ice, you are driving on borrowed time. You may think you are in control, but you’re not. 

For black ice to form, the temperature needs to be within a single degree of the freezing point, with either freezing rain or snow falling. The snow will melt on contact, then refreeze as smooth ice. The best way to check for the presence of black ice is to run your hand across the leading edge of your mirror. If it’s coated in a thin layer of ice, get off the road as soon as possible, as the road surface will very likely be covered in black ice. You can’t see black ice on the road. The road will look bare and dry, but don’t let that fool you. Black ice is very thin, less than a millimeter thick, and completely transparent. For the inexperienced, the first indication of black ice may be the trailer just sliding sideways from a gust of wind, turning the wheel to negotiate a bend in the road, and the truck continuing in a straight line, touching the brakes and the back of the truck kicking out to the left or the right, or even having the truck just start sliding around on it’s own. 

If you even suspect black ice is starting to form, find a place to park immediately. The good news is, black ice usually doesn’t last very long, so within 2 hours at most, you should be in your way again.