Last month we discussed all the mechanical things you can do to help keep your car on the road in the winter. This month, we’re discussing white-outs, black ice, and other colorful issues which jeopardize your safety in the winter months – actually keeping your car between the lines and out of our shop. As always, taking a few precautions before you go out and while you drive goes a long way towards making your winter driving as uneventful as possible.
White-Outs: Sometimes the snowfall gets so heavy that driving becomes nearly impossible due to reduced visibility caused by heavy snowfall. Christmas Eve was a great example of how a snowstorm can creep up on you without any advance notice. In less than five minutes, approximately a half inch of snow fell, creating visibility issues and causing quite a few collisions. The key to dealing with the unexpected is to expect it. It may sound silly, but everyone knows that the weathermen get it wrong, and that it snows in January. Knowing these two things, make sure your washer fluid is full and all your lights are working. Check your tires to make sure they are appropriately inflated, and have good tread on them. Don’t forget your ice scraper and snow brush. You’ll need them if the snow builds up. If you do get caught in a white-out situation, it’s probably a good idea to find a safe place to wait it out.
Black Ice: One of the most dangerous occurrences during the winter months is the buildup of black ice. Black ice is nothing more than ice which builds up on the road right about the time where it hits the freezing point. The danger of black ice is that it can’t be seen very well. Here are a few tips to help you drive on black ice.
- Assuming is ok here. It’s January. If there was any recent precipitation and the temperature is below 32 degrees, you can assume that you will encounter black ice somewhere. Forewarned is forearmed. Recently we’ve had the coldest temperatures in the Montgomeryville area in twenty years, so the odds of hitting ice patches out there are pretty good.
- Look for Black Ice. While difficult to see, black ice most often has a glossy shine to it. Look for changes in the appearance in the surface of the road, and drive accordingly.
- Know Where and When to Find Black Ice. Black ice can form on any road surface, but is more commonly found on bridges and overpasses, where the air can cool from both sides of the surface. Black ice regularly forms in the early morning and evening, when the sun is not working to keep the road surface warm.
- Don’t Panic! Black ice is often patchy, so most times it is a short trip across the ice. Be calm, and don’t hit your brakes. If you feel yourself starting to move, gently turn your wheel slightly in the direction of the skid. Look ahead for areas where you can gain traction – parts of the road may be clear, or the ice looks more textured.
Remaining cool this winter will help you navigate the ice rinks of Pennsylvania more safely. Of course, if you do get into an accident, give us a call and we’ll get you out. As always, we’re here to help you.