Black ice creates dangerous driving conditions

BRAINERD – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is warning motorists that current temperatures are creating conditions for black ice, an invisible hazard that catches drivers off guard and causes accidents.

Black ice creates the appearance of a wet surface but is actually a thin layer of transparent ice on roads and bridges, MnDOT reported in a press release. Black ice forms when melting snow freezes or when rain, drizzle, haze or fog freeze over. It is most common at night and early in the morning when it is dark and temperatures are lowest.

Black ice often forms in tunnels and other shaded areas, on overpasses and bridges, and near lakes and rivers. The hazard can also form when snow temporarily melts from automobile exhaust emissions or the heat from tires and moisture vapors given off by industries near the highway.

Motorists should remember to:

  • Slow down on bridges, viaducts and tunnels and on all roads early in the morning when the air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature.

  • Avoid applying the brakes on the ice as this could cause the vehicle to skid.

  • Do not use cruise control in winter driving conditions.

  • Use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.

  • Keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front.

  • Keep both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and stay alert.

For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone/winter.html.

For real-time information on traffic and travel in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app.

About William G.

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