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Don't Let Black Ice Leave You Stranded This Winter [Infographic]

January 21, 2016
Stay safe on icy roads!

Georgia is prone to all hazards from winter storms, including snow, sleet and freezing rain. Each remain dangerous, but one of our main travel threats this time of year continues to be a thin, clear coating of glaze that forms on road surfaces from the refreezing of melting snow or from freezing rain, drizzle, mist or fog. This threat is more commonly known as: black ice.

Black ice gets its name because the narrowness of the ice makes it practically invisible once it’s frozen against the pavement. It’s most common at night and very early in the morning when it’s hard to see and when temperatures are lowest.  If you’re driving on black ice, the first thing you’ll notice is how slippery it is. Since black ice lacks bubbles or slope variations, tires can’t get traction and vehicles can very quickly begin to skid. It can take nine times the distance required to stop your vehicle while traveling on black ice than traveling on dry pavement.

Use the infographic and text below to know where black ice is most likely to form and how to recover your vehicle if you do begin to lose control.

Jump to the text alternative of this infographic.

Graphical representation of the text provided in this blog

Certain roadways are more vulnerable to black ice than others. They include:

  • Areas of roads that receive little or no sunlight
    These stretches of road will be slower to warm in comparison to the air and are more likely to contain black ice.
  • Seldom-used back roads
    That’s because increased road traffic creates friction, warming busier roads and preventing ice formation. Shaded spaces, such as patches of road surrounded by trees, are more likely to contain black ice.
  • Tunnels and underpasses
    They provide plenty of shade for black ice to develop.
  • Bridges
    They tend to remain extra cool because their height gives them greater exposure to cold winds.

The best advice to lower your chance of skidding on black ice is to slow down. Avoid the urge to make jerky, reactive movements that could cause your vehicle to slide. Instead keep the wheel steady, don’t overcorrect steering, break or accelerate. If you do start to swerve, lift your foot off the accelerator and turn the front wheels in the direction the back wheels are trying to go.

It’s still too soon to say how frequent or intense the cold air outbreaks and winter storms are likely to be this season, but preparing for the worst is always a safe bet. Take time today to build or restock a winter weather Ready Kit for home and vehicle and develop a communications plan for your family to contact one another and reconnect if separated at work or school. Learn the difference between a winter storm watch, advisory and warning so you’ll know when to take action. And be sure to download the Ready Georgia mobile app to receive weather alerts.

About the Author

Jim Butterworth was appointed Director of Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security by Governor Nathan Deal in January 2015. In this position, he serves as the Homeland Security Advisor to the Governor and is responsible for coordinating the state’s preparedness, response and recovery from natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Prior to his appointment as GEMA/HS Director, Mr. Butterworth served 4 years as the Adjutant General of Georgia overseeing the Georgia Department of Defense.

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