What makes black ice so dangerous is that it’s much harder to detect in advance than thicker, milky-looking ice sheets; black ice is moisture that has frozen clear. A thin layer of it doesn’t produce obvious discoloration and may await you on a road that looks essentially dry.
Black ice thrives in areas where there isn’t much direct sunlight, like tree-lined residential roads or tunnels. Bridges, overpasses and the roadway beneath overpasses are also notoriously treacherous. If pavement looks a little darker or more reflective than usual, you may be in for some black ice ahead.
l If you encounter black ice on a roadway, resist that strong reflexive desire to act fast to regain control. The best general rule: do nothing. If you’re currently braking when you hit the ice, stop braking; if you’re accelerating, lift your foot completely; keep your steering wheel fixed in its current position. Never brake or press the gas when you’re on black ice. Instead, try to coast over it in your desired direction, because patches typically don’t stretch longer than 20 feet.
l If your tail begins to drift in a certain direction, gently turn your wheel in the same direction that your car is drifting. Struggling against the drift by steering in the opposite direction will cause spin-outs.