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Black ice: What is it, how to stay safe

Black ice forms when temperatures are at or below freezing

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Black ice forms when moisture freezes to the pavement. While normal ice may appear white, black ice is transparent. It is still ice, but it looks like the rest of the pavement.

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Since black ice blends in with the surface it forms on, it is hard to see it in advance. It is still very slippery.

RELATED: South Carolina schools districts announce delays due to weather

Black ice forms when temperatures are at or below freezing.

It forms most commonly at night or in the early morning hours when the temperatures are the lowest, or when the sun is not around to warm the roads.

Black ice tends to form on parts of the road without much sun, like a tree-lined street. It will also form more frequently on roads that are less traveled.

Black ice develops faster on bridges, overpasses and the road beneath overpasses. This is because the cold air is able to cool both the top and under the bridge or overpass faster.

Here are some tips according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture:

- If you have ABS brakes, know how they feel when they engage so you don't panic and that you understand what denotes slippery conditions – even if your car is still in control.

- Walking and cycling on black ice is also dangerous and can cause you to slip. Cyclists need to take extra care as slipping can lead you into the pathway of car and truck traffic.

- Have snow tires fitted before the temperatures drop low enough to cause black ice. This is especially important if you're traveling outside your urban areas and you're not familiar with the roads and weather conditions.

- Stay off of the phone, and don't mess with the radio. Pay attention to the road or you might wreck!

- A good tip for any ice driving is to avoid sudden movements. Quickly turning your tires, accelerating or braking can cause you to lose traction. One way to adapt your driving style to winter travel is to imagine an egg between your foot and the gas and brake pedals. Make it a priority to keep the imaginary egg intact. You'll find yourself driving more cautiously in no time.

- If the weather is bad and the conditions are likely to result in black ice, try to stay home and avoid driving at all.

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