Black ice is dangerous, especially if you’re not prepared to spot on. For the first timers encountering black ice, it can be a scary experience. This group of SUV owners who were travelling through the Spiti Valley exactly show how it is done and how one can tackle the slippery black ice situation in the mountains.
In most cases, black ice stretches are not even visible. But in this case, the whole road had a sheet of hard ice, which is much easier to spot. Getting on such black ice surfaces can be dangerous and without proper driving skills, one can slip and fall down.
The group of SUV owners first prepared the stretch so that the vehicles do not slip. To prepare for the stretch, they break the layer of ice to make sure that there is enough traction for the tyres. Digging up and breaking the smooth surface of the frozen ice makes sure that there is ample traction and that the vehicles can go over it without slipping.
Also, they put loose dirt over the frozen ice surface. The dirt also adds a layer of friction between the smooth ice and the tyre and gives extra traction to the vehicles. These are the most common ways to add to traction to a slippery surface like frozen ice sheets that we saw in the video.
Also, if the vehicle is heavy and the layer of ice is thin, snow chains can crush the ice and increase traction. In those cases, such digging and throwing dirt are not required.
SUVs crossing black ice
The video shows various vehicles like the Toyota Fortuner, Mahindra Thar, Jeep Wrangler and Ford Endeavour crossing the stretch after it was well-prepared. Even though the traction between the surface and the tyre increased by multiple folds after digging and sprinkling dirt, the SUV drivers were super careful while crossing. There were a few slides and slips but overall, all the vehicles crossed the stretch without any problem.
While having an AWD or 4X4 might help in such situations, traction is more important than anything else. With the right tyres and driving techniques, even 4X2 vehicles can cross black ice surfaces easily.
How to drive on black ice?
Black ice forms overnight in cold areas when the temperature drops to near zero degrees Celsius. Water flowing on the road freezes to become a very slippery surface. This patch cannot be identified easily as it looks like a wet patch. Most of the bikers fall on the black ice due to sudden braking or acceleration. Many times, when a rider realises that the surface below is slippery, they apply brakes in panic and lose grip.
The best way to tackle black ice is to identify it and ride slowly over it. As it is difficult to identify black ice, it is always better to drive slowly during early morning hours and slow down even more after spotting any wet patch on the road. The black ice melts after the sun rises but in the shadow area, they can stay for a much longer time. It is important to maintain the same speed without changing the gear while driving on black ice. Also, maintaining the tyre properly ensures optimum grip. Always change the tyres after the tread depth goes below 1.5mm to get the maximum grip out of every type of surface.