If you were out driving the roads of northern Rhode Island this morning, you might have given the term “going for a spin” a whole new meaning! The black ice was treacherous this morning, and there were several spin-outs and accidents as a result. As I cautiously drove to work from Cumberland RI, I felt like I was at the mercy of my car and the ice, and I just hoped that I could get to my office safely. But aside from just “hoping” to get to your destination, or staying in until it melts, what exactly are the best tips for black ice driving?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), black ice is “one of the deadliest of all winter hazards”. Unfortunately, during winter in the northeast, it is also a relatively common occurrence that we all have to deal with. Black ice tends to form more on shaded roadways, bridges and overpasses, and driveways. Following these tips might help you safely navigate the black ice the next time you encounter it:
-Do not hit the brakes! This may seem like the natural instinct, but doing so will only cause you to lose control and slide more. Instead, try to keep the steering wheel steady. Lift your foot off the accelerator. If you must brake, tap the brake pedal lightly. Do not pump the pedal or push down hard on it.
-Drive slowly! This may seem obvious, but all too often drivers fail to slow down enough to account for current road conditions. Black ice requires a much slower-than-normal speed. Allow for extra travel time.
-Do not tailgate! Leave ample stopping room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Experts recommend allowing three times more room than usual.
-Buckle up! Always wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers are buckled as well.
-Keep a winter-weather safety kit in your car! This will come in handy in the event that your car becomes disabled. Items to keep in your car include an ice scraper, snow brush, blanket, flashlight, and shovel. Always make sure you have a hat and gloves too.
-Steer in the direction of the skid! If you car begins to slide, always steer the wheel in the same direction as you are skidding. This will help to prevent losing control and spinning.
And remember…4-wheel drive doesn’t help with black ice. A vehicle equipped with 4-wheel drive will have the same trouble stopping on black ice as other cars, so be careful!
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