How To Drive On Black Ice

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Q: How should I drive on black ice?

A: Black ice is a virtually transparent, thin layer of ice that forms on roadways in the winter. While you may not always be able to see black ice coming, you can prepare yourself on how to handle it should your car start to slip. If you find yourself on a patch of black ice, keep calm and do the following:

  • Don't make any sudden movements: A lot of people panic, slam on the brakes, or turn the wheel when they hit black ice. The best thing you can do is to keep the car moving as it was before you hit the ice to allow it to pass over.
  • Gently turn into the swerve: If your car begins to swerve to the left or right, turn the wheel gently into the direction you're swerving. If the back of your car is fishtailing to the left, turn the wheel to the left and vice versa. Turning the opposite direction could cause you to skid or spin out. The cardinal rule is to steer in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Take your foot off of the accelerator: Because hitting the brakes could cause you to spin out, the best way to slow down is by taking your foot off of the accelerator. Slowing down the car will give you better control.
  • If you're driving manual, downshift: If you're driving a manual car, downshift if possible.
  • Steer toward traction: Snow, textured ice, or sand will give your car traction and help you regain control. If you can steer toward any of these substances on the roadway, do so.

There's no exact science on how to best handle black ice. The good news is that areas of black ice are generally small, so your car won't be slipping for long. However, it's still important to have good collision and comprehensive coverage. Discuss your auto policy options with your independent agent to ensure you're covered should a black ice-related accident occur.

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