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On Jan. 13, 2020, ice settled on the streets and highways of Seattle, Washington. That night, a 30-car chain-reaction crash occurred during rush hour traffic along the SR 520 bridge near Bellevue. There were no major injuries.

Winter weather can complicate commuting to work and running errands, and you may have already encountered black ice. Were you able to get yourself out of the situation? Do you know what to do if you come across it again?

Black ice

Black ice is a thin coat of transparent ice. It blends in with the road, making it near impossible to see. The ice is “black” because the dark, colored pavement is visible through the ice. When the temperature drops below freezing and the roadway is wet, black ice may form. You may find yourself in a dangerous situation driving on the ice. Use the following three tips to help you get to where you are going safely:

  1. Know where to expect black ice

The most common locations for black ice are areas that get little sunlight. Any shaded roadways may be dangerous, and bridges and overpasses may freeze quickly. Be aware of signs that tell you to watch for ice.

  1. Never hit your brakes

Driving over black ice may cause your vehicle to fishtail. Try not to brake, as doing so may cause the car to skid. Keep your steering wheel steady, and avoid stopping, if possible.

  1. Keep your distance

Increase the distance between yourself and other vehicles by five to six seconds. This may give you more time to stop if you have a car in front of you. Remember to press lightly on your brakes by applying firm, steady pressure.

Driving on black ice may be scary. Pay attention to the weather forecast. If emergency personnel advise people not to drive, heed the advice. Your safety is paramount.