Winter Weather Safety: How to Handle Black Ice

Winter weather brings with it a world of snowy beauty–but with that comes some perils. One of the more dangerous cold weather hazards is black ice. The term “black ice” in itself is somewhat of a misnomer, as the ice is actually transparent, which is what makes it so perilous. However, you can protect yourself by understanding and knowing how to deal with this winter issue.

Places to expect black ice include areas with shade, tunnels, overpasses, and bridges—where the cold nature of metal causes ice to form quickly. Early morning and overcast days also tend to allow ice more time to form, as the sun has not had a chance to melt any formations.

It is not always possible to avoid black ice however, so here are some tips on how to drive safely over the hazard:

  1. Remain calm. While it may be difficult at the time, the biggest thing you can do if you hit a patch of black ice is to react calmly and do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice.
  2. Try not to hit the brakes. While it is natural to want to brake when you feel your vehicle swerve, braking will actually make you lose control and skid. It is best to instead ease off of the gas and calmly tap the brakes to slow down.
  3. Keep the steering wheel straight. It is important to firmly hold your steering wheel straight to avoid swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic. However, if you feel the back end of your vehicle sliding left or right, make a very gentle turn in the same direction to help correct the issue.
  4. Head for areas of traction. Look for areas with gravel, sand, white snow, etc. These spots will give your vehicle some much-needed traction and give you time to right the course.
  5. Practice makes perfect. If possible, try to practice your winter weather driving as often as possible in safe surroundings. Large, empty parking lots are an ideal spot on an icy day to practice braking on the ice, and learning how your vehicle handles in these conditions.

If you do happen to get into an accident due to black ice, remember that Farm Bureau Insurance’s Claims Department is here for you 24/7—with local adjusters and fast, friendly service. Just report any type of claim through our Customer Service Center toll-free number: 1-866-275-7322.