Driving in the winter can sometimes be difficult, especially on roads that have hard to spot black ice. The biggest danger of black ice is that you are at the mercy of the vehicle and ice until you pass over it. If you do drive on black ice, it is important to remain calm, and not to overcorrect your vehicle.

Black ice forms most often when it’s raining and air is at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface. Sometimes black ice can form from sleet as well. The low ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice. Sleet and the refreezing of runoff from melting snow can also generate black ice. Having black ice can also be a hazard if you are walking, because you can slip and fall on it, even several days after a winter storm.

Black ice gets its name from its ability to blend in with its surroundings. This is because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road, but it’s actually clear. The thin nature and complexion of black ice makes it extremely difficult to spot, but using a car thermometer as an initial gauge may be helpful in determining the road conditions.

A car thermometer, like any digital thermometer, tries to find the air’s ambient temperature. So, if a vehicle’s thermometer is close to freezing, the driver should take extra precaution behind the wheel. While the sensors are usually very accurate, their placement on a vehicle can make them less reliable. Located outside the car behind the front bumper, these sensors sometimes pick up heat from the car’s engine, resulting in a higher temperature reading. This false higher temperature reading can occur if moving along in city traffic, or if a car was idling or recently used and parked.

The primary time for the development of this ice is between sunset and sunrise, when temperatures are typically the lowest. During the day, the best thing to do before getting in a vehicle is to take a look at the pavement. If the pavement is dry but you are seeing spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, that is probably going to be black ice. Before getting on the roads at night, make sure to check the weather and road conditions, this may help you to be aware of black ice. If you are ever in doubt, make sure to slow down so you can remain in control of your vehicle when you drive.