A Valley News Publication

The piece by John Seabrook is published in the April 9 issue.

I actually learned a small bit about driving on black ice (and I grew up learning to drive in icy New England weather), specifically in terms of letting go of the wheel once you start spinning out.

I felt my back end start to yaw—rotate clockwise, turning us south. It was too slippery, and my speed was too great, for AdvanceTrac to help. I tried to turn the wheel into the skid—“Look where you want the car to go”—but I felt only the terrible looseness in the steering column that indicated no control.


Our rear end continued its lazy rotation until, still under a second into the event, on the right side of the windshield, glowing in the clear ice forming on the glass, I saw the propane truck’s headlights, shining toward us.


“Oh, Rose, we’re sliding!” I called out, sounding apologetic, because it appeared that I’d killed us. Still absorbed in the movie, however, Rose didn’t hear me or notice the oncoming headlights, or realize the danger we were in, because everything was occurring in silence, on ice.

(The No. 1 rule which I did not need to be reminded of: Don’t pass when you don’t need to!)

Read more at The New Yorker website.