Icy conditions make driving dangerous through Texas. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Brad Wheelis said people should stay off the roads if they can.
For those who must hit the road, proceed with caution.
“Treat every road like it’s icy. That’s the best advice I can give,” Wheelis said.
Here’s what you might encounter on the roads and tips for driving safely on ice.
What is black ice? Why is it dangerous?
Think of black ice as camouflaged ice. The road may look ice free, but it really isn’t.
Black Ice gets its name from the fact that it is transparent, resembling any other stretch of black tarmac instead of white and crispy. Black ice forms without creating bubbles, allowing it to melt easily.
It is difficult to see and can often be a problem in shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses, as cold air is able to cool both the top and bottom of these structures.
Still, there are signs to look for. Black ice often appears as shiny areas on a road surface, so at least in daylight you can watch for this.
If you touch black ice, stay calm. Don’t slam on the brakes. If you feel the rear of your vehicle starting to drift to the left or right, steer gently in the same direction. Steering in the opposite direction increases the possibility of skidding. Slow down while decelerating: Release the accelerator and put your car in a lower gear if you can. Then, guide your vehicle to areas with better traction.
Is there still ice on the roads? Are the roads in Austin icy?
How to remove ice from a windshield
If you start your vehicle and the glass blocks your view, you will need to remove it.
If you don’t have an ice scraper handy, a common household solution suggests using a mixture of vinegar and water, but this can corrode your vehicle’s surfaces. The AAA, the American Automobile Association, says that pretreating your windshield with the solution can cause the glass to “micro pit” causing craters, visibility issues, and potentially a weakened windshield.
If you pour hot water on your car from top to bottom, it could crack the windows and windshield.
Ultimately, the safest thing to do is to use your car’s defroster. It may take patience, but it’s better than causing long-term damage to your vehicle.
Tips for driving in a winter storm
If you must drive, drive slowly and carefully. This means driving below the speed limit, even half of what is posted or less just to be safe.
Do not tailgate. TxDOT recommends staying behind at least three times normal following distances.
If another driver hits ice or a slippery road, give them space in case they spin. Allow for this space to limit the risk of a fender bender. Remember, if you start to slip or skid, release the accelerator pedal and brakes and drive to an area with better traction.