Ask a Trooper: Drivers should be wary of black ice

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sgt. Troy Christianson

Minnesota State Patrol

Question: Trooper Troy, what is black ice, how does it form?

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Answer: Black ice may form when light rain falls on pavement that is less than 32 degrees, or when roadways are wet and the temperature plummets. Black ice is common early in the morning and late at night when the roads are cold. Beware of bridges and overpasses, which are often cooler as a result of air circulating both above and below elevated surfaces. It is also important to be aware of black ice near bodies of water, where increased moisture in the air can be a factor.

Sgt. Troy Christianson Ask a Trooper Minnesota State Patrol

Sgt. Troy Christianson
Ask a Trooper
Minnesota State Patrol

Black ice can be very difficult to detect, so there are several precautions that are necessary when driving in these conditions. Headlights or fog lights are a helpful tool in spotting black ice. Look for glossy patches on the road during the day; glaze may be a good indicator. Monitor the air temperature, if it is near freezing you should reduce speeds and never use cruise control. It is also important to be aware of proper tire pressure and tread.

When you are driving on black ice it is important to stay calm, take your foot off the gas pedal and never slam on the brakes as this will cause you to lose control. If you lose control of your vehicle, look for areas on the roadway that may help you regain traction. These may include areas with heavy sand or salt.

Once you have regained control of your vehicle, take a moment to compose yourself and continue your travels. If there is a great deal of black ice it would be wise to stop in a safe place and wait for MnDOT to treat the roads. This will reduce your risk of crashing.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th ST NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848. Follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_SOUTH