[Editor's Note: The following was submitted by Officer Art Montiel of the California Highway Patrol.]
The Bay Area has experienced freezing temperatures in some areas already this winter. Temperatures at the end of this week are predicted to be freezing again. With freezing temperatures, there may be a potential for “Black Ice.”
Unfortunately, it is very hard to detect black ice. During hours of darkness, it’s almost impossible. That’s why the best approach is to be prepared and attentive to signs around you. Knowing outside temperatures or having a gauge in your vehicle is important so that you are aware when it is reaching below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius.
If freezing conditions exist, ice will begin forming on your side mirrors. If frozen water is forming on your vehicle’s exterior mirrors or windows, then it's cold enough for water to freeze on the roadway. Even if the roadway does not have the moisture to build ice in freezing temperatures, there could be patches of frozen surfaces to be concerned with such as on bridges, overpasses, and shady roadways. If the roadway appears wet; however, there is no spray coming from the vehicles’ tires around you be aware. This could be extremely dangerous. You may be driving on ice!!!
When driving on ice, ensure your lights and windows are clean (especially your windshield). Drive with your lights on so you are more visible. Use low gears especially on hills to keep traction. Drive slowly and don’t use cruise control. Allow plenty of room in front of you in order to stop. If you begin to slide, remain totally calm. Let off the accelerator, but DO NOT hit the brakes. DO NOT make any sudden movements regarding steering input. Slow down as much as you can and remain aware of your surroundings (you don’t want to be rear-ended by another vehicle). Try to find a safe location to park your vehicle. Try not to stop on the roadway including the shoulder. The shoulder of the road can be extremely dangerous!
Ice is nothing to take a chance with. It is very dangerous!