Virginia State Police officers were reporting more than 150 crashes statewide since 5 a.m., with about half in the Richmond metro area. Hampton Roads Commuters began their commute this morning with snow showers, and accumulations of up to one inch by 3:30 p.m. VDOT reported nearly dry interstate conditions on the Peninsula and damp roads in South Hampton Roads about 4:30 p.m. Tonight's low will be in the low 20s, with winds steady at 16 to 18 mph and gusts up to 30 mph. This means lots of black ice for the morning commute. Black ice is a dangerous wintertime hazard because the icy road may not always be visible to the driver. Indeed, melted snow or ice that refreezes may still look deceivingly like a dry road. And temperatures don't have to be below freezing for black ice to develop. Black ice can occur if temperatures are near the freezing mark--or even a few degrees above it. While a shiny road surface indicates an obviously wet or icy road, a road covered with black ice will look a little different. Keep an eye out for pavement that is slightly darker and a little duller looking than the rest of the road surface-- this may indicate that black ice is present. Because black ice is so tricky to detect, a driver may not realize there is an icy road surface until his car begins to slide. Here are some winter driving safety tips on how to drive on black ice:
- As soon as your car begins to slide on black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal. In fact, the last thing you want to do is give your car more gas. It is very important to slow down when you are driving on black ice or in any other winter road conditions.
- Don't slam the brakes. While it may be a natural instinct to slam on your brakes, this will only cause your car to lose control and slide even more. Tap the brake pedal lightly instead of pushing down hard on it.
- Look for trouble spots ahead. If you have an idea that there may be black ice ahead (if you see cars ahead of you sliding, for example), downshift to a lower gear before you come onto the black ice. The lower gear will force you to drive more slowly and it will give you better control of your car.
- If your car does begin to skid on the ice, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid. This should help to steer your car back on the right track
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