TXDOT and the local town sanding crews did a nice job of giving some traction during the Great Morning of North Texas Ice, 2009.
Lulls you into a sense of complacency, it does.
As I came off an exit prior to a flying overpass, I was late to discover that the offramp was elevated, and unsanded.
A lonnnnng period of skidding ensued, in which I began overtaking the minivan ahead of me.
I was in my patrol car, which has antilock brakes that instantly kicked in with their long groan, seemingly ineffectively. I dropped the automatic transmission down a gear, standing on the brakes, still impressed that the car was actually steering through the slight curve of the off-ramp.
The offramp was long; about 300 yards, with almost half of it elevated, or so it seemed.
I watched my distance to the minivan shrink to 50 yards, keenly aware of the downhill grade that would make the ramp unsafe at my now-unchecked highway speed, even without the ice. When that van hit unelevated ramp, I figured that it would slow much faster, and that I'd be toast. I heard very clearly the announcement of "Brace For Impact" in my head. Divider walls on each side made bailout impossible. I decided that I would try to use the divider wall to slow myself just as I would impact the other car. I edged left, staying squarely pointed ahead.
Finally, I noticed that I was slowing.
I matched speeds with the minivan, then slowed below its speed, and realized that we were both now on non-elevated off-ramp by this time. I kept on the brakes, to increase my following distance to over 50 yards, even at the now-crawling speed of about 8 mph. I then regularly tapped my brakes, to let everyone behind me know I was slowing dramatically. I didn't feel okay until I got to the intersection, with several lanes around me and numerous bailout destinations, should another car find himself sliding down that off-ramp. I tried to call to get that ramp sanded, but the line was busy three times. I gave up.
Although it was actually worse last night, when I was called out to an emergency, I was more prepared for that to be terrible (raining wet at 25 degrees makes you prepare for the worst. 2 hours at the hospital put half an inch of window-pane clear ice on my windshield), and had no problems.