December 2017

Minnesota weather is quirky and unpredictable.

But in the winter, there area few things that we should know to expect: freezing cold temperatures, fresh blankets of snow, and that dreaded black ice.

Black ice is one of the more unfortunate and dangerous byproducts of our cold weather climate here in the Stillwater area. The worst part about black ice is that it’s largely unavoidable — unless you plan on staying off the roads completely this winter.

At Hassis Paintworks, we have you covered if you’re in need of auto body collision repair after a run-in or accident caused by black ice. But more importantly, we want to be here to give you a few safety tips to help you properly spot and navigate black ice safely.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while driving on the Minnesota and Wisconsin highways this winter.

What Is Black Ice?

Black ice is ice that forms without many air bubbles inside. Black ice commonly occurs on roads due to moisture from car exhaust at sub zero temperatures or from when temperatures are sitting right around freezing. Black ice can accumulate when the ground temperature is so cold that rain, sleet, or snow freezes immediately upon contact. Or when wet snow thaws and refreezes overnight before it has a chance to evaporate.

Black ice is transparent, as it takes on the color of whatever surface it forms on, which is usually pavement. Hence the name “Black Ice”. This is the reason that black ice is so dangerous, because that clear sheet of ice is almost impossible to identify when driving.

However, this dangerous road hazard is anything but normal; it is slippery, often unavoidable, and can ruin your travel plans in a hurry.

Spotting Black Ice

Black ice can be a tricky thing to spot, largely because the road usually appears as if it were normal or possibly just wet. Of course, black ice doesn’t occur on the roads every time it snows. It doesn’t have to snow at all! This is what makes it hard to detect.

However, by using the thermometer in your car (if you have one), you can properly gauge the outside temperature to know if there is a risk for black ice. If the temperatures are below freezing and there is precipitation on the ground, then chances are you’re going to want to drive a little bit slower and be more aware of your surroundings. Also, if you are in an area where there may be traffic congestion and the temperatures are sub zero, this is also an indication that black ice may be present.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, the department of transportation will sometimes attempt to neutralize black ice on roads by pouring salt or sand, so this is another thing to look out for during the winter. Even if you see an abundance of sand/salt on the roads, it’s best to be cautious. Remember that road salt is not as effective at sub zero temperatures.

Tips For Driving On Black Ice

Driving on black ice can be a tricky and dangerous thing.

However, by following a few of these tips from Hassis Paintworks, you can possibly avoid some of the dangers and hazards associated, and possibly even save yourself a trip to your local auto body collision repair shop.

Our top tips for driving on black ice include:

  • Keep Your Distance: You should remain about five seconds behind the car in front of you, as it takes twice as long to stop on black ice.
  • Don’t Slam The Brakes: When skidding, you’re going to be tempted to hit the brakes. Instead, you should attempt to remain calm and hold your steering wheel steady to even out.
  • Be Aware: Again, you should always be aware of your surroundings and the outside temperature. Remember, the ground temperature in the winter is likely colder than air temperature, particularly in the mornings.
  • Don’t Over Correct: This goes back to tip No. 2. When you feel your car sliding, do not feel the need to overcorrect. Instead, try to keep the wheel steady and firm until you come to a stop.
  • Plan Accordingly: If you can avoid driving at night, when black ice is more difficult to notice, do so.
  • Keep It Slow: Your destination can wait. Drive at reduced speeds in order to minimize the risk of black ice, slips, skids, and accidents.

If you do encounter an accident as a result of black ice this winter, don’t let it beat you up. Come into Hassis Paintworks for the best auto body collision repair in Stillwater and we’ll get you all taken care of!