In the winter, workers who drive as part of their duties face various challenges, including heavy snow, reduced visibility—and black ice.
Black ice is a glaze that forms on surfaces (especially roads, sidewalks and driveways) because of a light freezing rain or because of the melting and re-freezing of snow, water or ice.
Although it’s actually clear, it’s called “black” ice because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road. So a surface covered in black ice may just appear to be wet. Black ice is always dangerous but even more so at night when it’s almost impossible to see.
Here are some safety tips from the Minnesota Departments of Transportation and Public Safety to pass on to workers who may encounter black ice while driving on the job:
- Be aware that black ice is almost invisible.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and tunnels and in early morning when the air temperature is rising faster than the pavement temperature.
- Never brake while driving on ice. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will cause your vehicle to skid. Brake only during your approach.
- Keep your distance. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as under normal driving circumstances. Keep at least a three-car distance from the vehicle directly in front of you.
- Although salting and sanding can neutralize black ice, be aware that salt loses its effectiveness at about 15° F or colder.