More than 5,000 accidents involving personal injury can be attributed to black ice alone. That’s why you should be able to spot the signs and take the right action if the treacherous slick catches you by surprise.
Driving in winter is often a challenge and a test of patience. You have to allow more time when it’s snowing, visibility is often poor due to badly scratched windows and then there is also the increased risk of accidents due to ice.
Snow and slush are usually easy to see and you can be prepared for the fact that it could get slippery in some places when driving. However, the black ice is much more treacherous, as it forms much faster and is also more difficult to recognize – especially in the dark.
Here we explain what you have to look out for in traffic and what you can do to prevent black ice.
Black ice is so dangerous because it can hardly be seen and can occur very suddenly. As soon as water gets onto the ice-cold road, a wafer-thin layer of ice forms – this is difficult to see, especially at dusk or in the dark.
The danger is particularly high in light rain or fog and in the morning hours. The risk is also higher in shady places, as these are not thawed by sunlight. Typical locations for black ice are:
Black ice usually occurs at temperatures that fluctuate around the freezing point. For example, freshly fallen snow can melt and then immediately turn to ice.
In winter, always find out about the weather conditions before setting off. In addition to the radio, applications such as the snow radar will also help you. If necessary, you can plan more time to drive particularly slowly in critical passages.
But note: Even ABS, snow chains and other modern safety measures are ineffective against black ice. If in doubt, postpone your journey or, if possible, use alternative means of transport to get to your destination.
However, should you be forced to resort to your car, make sure you are prepared for the cold with the following tools:
Don’t let the engine run ahead! In addition to environmental pollution and engine damage, there is a penalty of 80 euros.
Adjust your speed to the weather conditions. This is not only required by law, but saves you money and time in case of doubt and prevents injuries and damage to you and other road users.
The following driving tips are also worth noting:
As soon as black ice, snow, slush, ice or frost appear, the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations stipulate winter tires. The Alpine symbol identifies all approved tires.
While not quite equivalent, M S tires are still classified as winterized until September 30, 2024 – but only if they were manufactured by December 31, 2017.
The importance becomes clear when you compare the braking distances of summer and winter tires. If you drive at only 50 km/h, the distances to a standstill are as follows:
In the case of lightning ice, on the other hand, even
If you drive without winter tires, you risk a fine of 60 euros and a point in Flensburg. In the event of a traffic obstruction, it is even 80 euros.
If an accident occurs, the insurance benefits can even be reduced. According to the StVO, the driver of the vehicle is to be held liable. So make sure you have the right type of tires on rental vehicles too.
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