Tips for driving on ice this winter (Pt. 3)

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A black Porsche driving in snow.

Winter driving on ice and snow can lead to loss of traction. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Paul Williams/Flickr)

Black ice may not be called black because it’s some kind of dark ghost that haunts your winter driving. However, if such nomenclature were based on that, there would be no solid ground upon which to object. Click if you missed PART 1 or PART 2 of this article.

Driving on ice – The black ice horror show

Early morning black ice, which in truth is actually clear ice that shows asphalt, is very difficult to see because it is virtually transparent. It may appear to be wet pavement, so drivers may aim for those spots in the road so as to not spin wheels in a larger snowdrift. The horror is that black ice, according to various studies, presents five times more danger of losing traction and getting into a wreck than do normal roadway conditions. Stopping on black ice takes longer, and studded tires and chains help, but not to a great degree.

How should a driver deal with black ice? The same way as any other ice, as it generally cannot be anticipated. Slow down, don’t swerve or accelerate unnecessarily and look ahead for roadway obstructions.

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Driving on ice – Stock up first

Begin by making sure that your car’s safety systems are fully functional before you even hit the road. Windshield wipers must function properly and wiper fluid levels must be there. Test the front and rear window defrosters, make sure that battery is strong, top off the antifreeze and try to keep the gas level above half. Plus, make sure you use an ice scraper on the windows as necessary before leaving home. Once all of this is checked and accounted for, you can hit the road.

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Don’t forget to have emergency items on stock in your vehicle, too. Jumper cables, an ice scraper, emergency first aid kit, flashlight and fuel line de-icer are all important. For traction, a bag of sand or cat litter can make a huge difference. Better yet, keep one bag in the trunk for added vehicle weight, and use the other as needed on the ground for snow and ice traction. Blankets and snacks in the event that you’re stranded for a period of time are essential.


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