Black ice’: An unseen killer

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office






WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- While no ice is black, the universal nomenclature for clear ice on roadways is ‘black ice.”

It’s among the deadliest hazards drivers have to contend with during winter months. Motorists must be aware of it and know what to do if they encounter black ice on the road.

What to do if you hit black ice

  • As soon as your vehicle begins to slide on black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal. The last thing you want to do is give your car more gas. It’s very important to slow down when driving on black ice or in any other winter road conditions.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes. While it may be a natural instinct, this will only cause you to lose control of your car and slide even more. Tap the brake pedal lightly instead of pushing down hard on it.
  • If your vehicle does begin to skid on the ice, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid. This should help steer it back on the right track.

Helpful tips

  • Leave plenty of space between your car and others on the road. When driving on “black ice” road conditions, stay well behind the vehicle in front of you (at least a couple hundred feet) — this is definitely not the time to tailgate. Even if you feel confident you know how to drive safely on black ice, that doesn’t mean the driver in front of you does. Be prepared in case other cars start to slide.
  • Look for trouble spots. If you think there may be black ice ahead (for example, you see cars sliding in front of you), downshift to a lower gear before you hit the patch. The lower gear will force you to drive slower and give you better control of your vehicle.

Don’t be overconfident

Don’t think you’re invincible just because you drive a truck or big SUV. While four-wheel drive vehicles are great in heavy snow, you’re on your own when it comes to black ice.

In fact, four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over regular cars on it, so be sure to take necessary safety precautions no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

If you have questions about winter driving, contact the 88th Air Base Wing’s Safety Office at 937-904-0888.