Black Ice and Whiteouts

Black Ice

Black ice is a thin layer of ice that forms when snow or moisture from the air freezes rapidly and adheres to frozen pavement. Black ice is nearly invisible; you probably won’t notice it until your car starts to slide or lose traction. If you encounter black ice:

  1. Don’t brake. Slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Keep the steering wheel straight.
  3. If your car is skidding, steer in the direction you want to go.


Heavy blowing snow can cause whiteouts—low- or zero-visibility conditions. Checking the weather forecast can help you avoid them, but sudden snow squalls can cause unpredictable, localized whiteouts. If you do get caught in a whiteout:

  1. Slow down.
  2. Use low-beam headlights.
  3. Remain calm and be patient. Avoid passing other vehicles or changing lanes.
  4. Don’t tailgate. Increase your following distance from the car in front of you.
  5. Keep mirrors and windows clean by using the defroster and wipers.
  6. If visibility is close to zero, try to stop at the next exit until the whiteout passes. If you must pull over to the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights.