How To Stay Safe On Black Ice

By: Brenden Somerville   |   10 Jan 2017
Driving in the winter

Black Ice isn’t just the name of your favourite Little Trees air freshener hanging on the rearview mirror of your BMW.

As great as that mysterious mixture smells, the real phenomenon isn’t half as nice, and in fact, it’s quite dangerous. 

Black ice lurks on the pavement during light snowfall or rainstorm. Often mistaken for a small puddle or wet patch on the road, black ice gets its name because of its ability to blend right into the pavement. It isn’t very thick and doesn’t freeze white, so many drivers don’t spot it until it’s too late. Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees Celsius or below at the surface. As rain or snow falls, it freezes on impact, leaving behind an invisible sheet of ice.

As one of the major contributors to accidents in Toronto and on Canada’s busiest highways, it’s important to know how to spot black ice before you find yourself skidding out of control. The last thing you want is a hefty repair bill on your luxury vehicle. If you do happen to encounter a patch, it’s important to remember the following.

Be Prepared

If you do happen to hit black ice, you're going to want your vehicle to be responsive and in tip-top shape. If you don't have Winter Tires yet, do so. Installing Winter Tires is one of the easiest ways to improve handling and safety when driving in the colder months. Also, before you hit the road for any significant amount of time, ensure your vehicle is in good running condition, your steering is aligned etc. Sommerville Auto always has Seasonal Service Specials to help ensure your you and your vehicle are safe on the roads.


Don’t Hit the Brakes

Your first instinct might be to slam on the brakes in an attempt to stop your vehicle from continuing along the patch. It can be a surprising experience to say the least. However, abrupt braking actually makes the situation worse, as the energy exerted from a forced stop can cause you to slide out more. Keep your steering wheel steady and keep your eyes on the place you want your vehicle to go. Behind the wheel, you are at the hands of your vehicle, so you must be confident in your driving and don’t panic. Always look around you to see if any other vehicles have been affected by the same spot of black ice, and if possible, alert other drivers.

Let Go of the Accelerator

When you feel yourself caught on a patch of black ice, take your foot off of the accelerator, but do so very smoothly. At this point, it’s best to slow down completely and reduce your speed. If you’re about to lose control, it’s better to be going at a slower pace. Don’t snap your foot off the gas pedal at the first sight of black ice. Transferring too much force can actually destabilize the situation even further.

Don’t Force Your Steering Wheel

It’s important to not over-correct your steering wheel if you feel yourself starting to slide. The natural reaction is to point the wheel in the direction you need to be in, not the one you’re sliding towards. Instead, straighten the wheel as best you can. This will help the treads on your front tires get a better grip when things return to normal.

One of the easiest ways to stay safe this winter is with the added protection you get from your winter tires. Have you purchased a set? Visit our Service Department and book your appointment today. Call us at 1-(877) 503-5102 or contact us online to reserve your spot.


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