You Don’t Always See It – Chapter Educator, Dennis Murphy

 It is that time of the year when the temperatures are up and down. Here in the Midwest we can have temperature swings of 10, 20, or 30 degrees in one day. The reason I bring this up is that a lot of us like to ride as long as we can. And that brings out many dangers or motorcyclists. Just to name a few is sleet, freezing rain and black ice. These are the most dangerous because they are hard to see on the road surface.

Black Ice is the most dangerous of all in my opinion. Black ice forms when the air temperature is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice, sleet and the refreezing of snow or water can also generate black ice. It is called black ice because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road, abut it’s actually clear, the complexion of black ice makes it very difficult to see, black ice usually occurs around dawn and in the late evening, when the sun goes down and temperatures are usually the lowest.

If you must ride here are a few tips:

  • The best thing is to check the temperature and check to see if it is cold enough for freezing.
  • Take a look at the pavement. If the pavement is dry but you see spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, is probably black ice.
  • Before going out at night you should check the weather conditions, as black ice is hardest to see in the dark.
  • The most common locations for black ice to form is shaded or tree covered roads, bridges, and overpasses because of the ability to freeze quickly.

The best thing to do is try not to drive when conditions are favorable for black ice because it is the most dangerous thing you can do. Most likely the ice will win and you will get hurt.

Stay safe and enjoy your ride.


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