In most of the country, except those in the states with a moderate climate, it is now officially winter. Freezing temperatures are a daily item and in many places sub-zero temperatures occur. It is difficult enough dealing with winter weather and adding icy roads to the list makes it even more burdensome. However, driving lessons can arm you with the knowledge of how to recognize the various icy road conditions which goes a long way towards becoming a safer winter driver. Driving School Amsterdam
There are five main icy road conditions that drivers are likely to face in winter driving. Each of them takes a different form and can be equally treacherous to the unsuspecting driver.
1) Bridge Ice. I’m sure you’ve seen the signs “bridge freezes first” on many bridges. These signs are there for a reason and you should recognize that indeed this is a true statement. This was taught in drivers ed for a reason. Because there is no temperature moderating ground directly underneath the bridge surface, the surface can retain ice when surrounding road surfaces are clear. Keep a sharp eye on the surface and look for any signs of ice. Some typical signs are a “shiny” surface or a surface that appears to be slightly darker than normal.
2) Freezing Rain. Often called sleet, freezing rain is a true menace for road travelers. It can stick to virtually any surface and can cause many secondary problems in addition to the actual road surface itself. You will recognize freezing rain by the fact that it will stick to the windshield (and everything else, for that matter). These are among the most treacherous road conditions and if possible, don’t drive. If you’re stuck driving, slow way down, and minimize quick vehicle changes such as braking, acceleration, etc. I can’t emphasize enough the danger of road conditions in freezing rain and it is worth taking additional precautions.
3) Compacted Snow. Newly fallen snow itself, while slippery, still provides a decent amount of traction. However, there is a time between when the snow has fallen and when it is removed from the road via snow plows that it can be compacted into ice. When this happens the snow takes on the appearance of ice, which is clear and shiny. As the compacted snow turns to ice, the road conditions are icy even though there is still a fair bit of “whiteness” to the road.
4) Ice. Standard ice is fairly straightforward to recognize as its clear and shiny. Obviously this condition occurs at sub-freezing temperatures and most driving school graduates can easily recognize this condition. However, ice can form above freezing temperatures depending on the dew point. Also, it takes a while for ice to melt when the temperatures does exceed freezing so do not assume that just because the temperature has risen that the ice is all gone.
5) Black Ice. This type of ice is very tricky to recognize and often hides in the shadows, literally. Black ice often occurs at temperatures around the freezing point and can be seen as a patch of slightly darker road surface. Since black ice is a very thin layer of ice, a little bit of sunshine can melt the ice away leaving a good road surface. However, even a small shadow of a tree or building can leave a spot of black ice in its shadow. The transition from road to ice is very tricky to maneuver and if black ice is suspect, minimize car adjustments, such as braking, acceleration, turning, etc.