Black ice is term used to refer to a phenomenon where a thin coating of ice covers a surface. While the ice is actually see-through, the darkness of roadway material will give the surface of the ice a black color. Black ice is common during the winter, where roads may become wet from precipitation or other snow or sleet fall. Like any other icy surface, black ice causes the wheels of a car to loose traction. While this in itself is dangerous for any driver, perhaps the most frightening thing about black ice is that it’s nearly undetectable for most drivers. Asides from being very nearly transparent, black ice also rarely accumulates other indications of slippery-driving conditions: snow, sleet and noticeable ice will often be absent from black ice covered areas.

The best way to deal with black ice is to know when to expect it. Black ice tends to occur mostly when traffic is light and temperatures are low. Driving at night and early in the morning, then, tend to be the most dangerous. However, shaded conditions can also simulate the lower temperatures associated with night time, so tunnels or shaded roads require that a driver be at attention to their surroundings. If you find yourself on a road likely to be covered in black ice, it is important that you let go of the accelerator and ignore your brake. While it might be intuitive to brake once you feel you’ve lost control of your vehicle, it’s important to know that braking will likely cause you to skid. Skidding will probably be less controllable, especially when simply de-accelerating and keeping your wheel straight will hopefully cause you to just slide over the black ice.

It’s vital that, if you find yourself skidding or without traction for more than a couple seconds, that you stay calm. With as much ease and caution as you can muster, try and direct yourself to an area with traction and minimal obstructions. Of course, the best way to avoid black ice is to plan your trip to coincide with the warmest parts of the day and to roads that aren’t shady. Check your tire’s tread frequently during the winter adopt an attitude that driving slow and carefully is better than fast and dangerous, and you will hopefully get through any black ice encounter.

Author’s Bio: Martin L. Klausen is a part-time stunt-car driver and blog writer. He writes for several blogs, including where he writes on topics regarding automotive safety.