Everyone remembers that scene in Disney’s Bambi where he skids around on ice while his rabbit friend laughs. The scene is very cute, but it belies reality: ice is extremely dangerous, causing many injuries and accidents each winter.
The most dangerous is black ice – that transparent sheet of mayhem lurking on pavement. It’s virtually indistinguishable from the surface below, so can it even be avoided? If not, what then?
Black ice can be nearly invisible, but careful observation may help. If pavement seems shinier or darker, beware. It's often in shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses, but any area is potentially icy – it only takes a little water to freeze.
Take your time. Remember 4-wheel and all-wheel drives can spin out on a sheet of ice just as easily! Go slowly so you can drive more defensively, too.
Be calm and deliberate. Avoid sudden, jerky movements, like stomping on your gas or brake pedals. You’ll glide along on ice in nearly the same trajectory you were going before. If you fight this, you’re likely to spin out (driving) or fall (walking).
Remove your foot from the accelerator and wait for traction. If you're going slowly, you’ll have time to stop. Avoid braking suddenly, and keep steering where you were. If you start spinning out, gently steer in the direction of the skid.
Try to avoid walking on slick pavement, and walk slowly if you do. Don't react in a jerky fashion if you start to slip. We really are like Bambi, but with only two spindly legs instead of four!
The best safety tip is to check conditions and stay home on icy days. If not, be vigilant and deliberate. The extra time is worth it to stay safe in slick conditions.