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AAA: Drivers may face dangerous black ice as temperatures plummet

Area meteorologists are calling for drastic drops in temperature overnight, which may create hazardous driving conditions and the possibility of black ice.

>> AAA tips for winter storm and travel plans 

Almost half, (about 46 percent), of crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter, making this the worst time of year for driving. The highest proportion of crashes involving bad weather, happen overnight from 6:00 p.m. until 5:59 a.m., when visibility is limited and roads are most likely to freeze.

Ohio is among the top five states for the highest yearly average of winter weather-related crash fatalities.

AAA urges drivers to be cautious and offers the following tips for driving on black ice:

Driving on Black Ice:

  • Be on the lookout. Black ice forms when liquid on an otherwise clear roadway freezes as temperatures drop. Pavement covered in black ice may be a little darker and duller than the rest of the road surface.
  • Use extreme caution in certain areas. Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses, which freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • Slow down. Accelerate, turn and brake gradually. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Watch the traffic ahead. Slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways skids or emergency flashers ahead
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads. Patches of ice can cause unexpected wheel spin that could lead to a loss of vehicle control
  • Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes. This increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle control.
  • Carry a winter weather kit in your car. Contents should include an ice scraper, blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel, cloth/paper towels and a fully charged cellphone.

In addition to driving on black ice, AAA provides a few tips for braking on black ice

  • Minimize the need to brake on ice
  • Control the skid
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), do not remove your foot from the brake during a skid.
  • If your car does not have an anti-lock braking system, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to modulate the pressure applied to the brake pedal so that the brakes are at the “threshold” of lockup but still rotating.

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