Black Ice: What You Can’t See Can Hurt You

Many avid motorcyclists ride all winter long—driving to work at Steiner Electric in Loves Park, picking up groceries at Valli Produce, or even riding to Lowden State Park near Oregon to see the majestic Blackhawk Statue. With the right gear, a winter ride can be exhilarating. However, it can also be dangerous due to slick road conditions and black ice.

What Is Black Ice?

Black ice is a thin layer of clear ice that forms on the surface of the road, without bubbles or any other visible imperfections. To drivers, it may look like wet pavement or it may be nearly invisible—indistinguishable from the pavement. Either way, it is incredibly dangerous because drivers do not usually detect its presence until it is too late.

What Causes Black Ice to Form?

When the surface temperature of the road dips below freezing, water can turn to black ice. This often happens at night or in the early morning hours, before the sun comes out to warm up the road. While black ice often forms as a result of freezing rain and drizzle, melting snow, morning dew, fog, and condensation from car exhaust can also cause it to develop.

Where Does Black Ice Form?

Black ice is common on bridges and overpasses as well as on the roads beneath them. The air temperature beneath these structures can drop below the ground temperature, thereby freezing the water on the surface of the road more quickly. In addition, black ice may form on parts of the road that do not get much sun or on roads that receive less traffic.

Why Is Black Ice Dangerous?

Black ice is extremely dangerous because it develops very quickly, and drivers cannot see it until they are skidding across the pavement into another vehicle or stationary object.

The attorneys at The Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm want to remind motorcyclists to keep on the lookout for black ice, which tends to form in late winter and early spring. Slow down, stay alert, and be safe.