Understanding Black Ice

Cars driving on road next to a sign that reads: Caution black ice on road

Understanding Black Ice

When the temperature plunges below zero even the most experienced drivers can have difficulty managing icy roads. In Australia’s southern states, driving in the winter months can be a dangerous experience with extreme weather conditions and poor visibility. One of the more dangerous road hazards during these winter months is black ice.

What is black ice?

Black ice, also known as clear ice, is a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface, most typically roads. With a somewhat misleading name the ice itself is not actually black, but rather it is transparent allowing the road or surface below to be seen through it.

Where to expect black ice.

Black ice tends to form overnight, in the early hours of the morning or on sections of road that aren’t exposed to sunlight during the day (for example, those areas of the road that are sheltered by trees). Black ice forms without bubbles, which allows it to blend in with any surface it forms over, making it incredibly difficult to detect. Before you head out, keep your eye on local weather and highway reports which may advise of areas recently affected by black ice.

How to spot black ice.

While black ice is transparent, it can sometimes be seen in the right lighting conditions – if you are looking for it. Black ice almost always forms in smooth, very glossy sheets. This glossy surface is your indication of potential black ice. If the majority of the road you’re driving on appears dull, but the patch just ahead appears shiny, you may be about to drive onto black ice.

What to do if you hit black ice.

If you hit black ice, you will have little or no control over your vehicle but the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. The following Government sites provide great advice for dealing with black ice encounters:


If either you or your clients have experienced an accident involving black ice, contact your GT rep to lodge your claim today.