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Winter Car Accidents: 10 Roads To Avoid In Michigan Winter Road Conditions

November 21, 2019 by Steven M. Gursten

Winter Car Accidents: 10 Roads To Avoid In Michigan Winter

Learn the most dangerous roads to avoid in Michigan winter road conditions for your winter travels

We saw an unusually mild October this year. But that changed quickly with our most recent early-November Arctic blast snow storm in metro Detroit. As we all know, Michigan winter road conditions come quickly, and when they do they make driving very dangerous leading to winter car accidents.

Michigan Traffic Crash Facts reports the following on winter car accidents:

  • 14% of all Michigan car crashes in 2018 occurred where Michigan winter road conditions included snow, ice or slush.
  • Approximately 8.2% of all fatal Michigan car crashes in 2018 occurred on Michigan winter road conditions which involved snow, ice and slush.
  • 9.8% of all Michigan car crashes in 2018 occurred when the weather conditions involved snow, sleet or hail and blowing snow.
  • 6.1% of all fatal car accidents in Michigan in 2018 occurred under weather conditions that included snow, sleet or hail and blowing snow.

(Source: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, 2018, “Crash,” “Road Condition” and “Weather Condition”)

Additionally, WXYZ Detroit reports that a study of winter crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that:

  • “[B]etween 2015 and 2017, Michigan had the highest fatality rate when road conditions included sleet, snow, blowing snow and freezing drizzle.”
  • “The three-year average had Michigan top out at 49 total deaths. Pennsylvania came in second with 30 fatalities and New York in third with 29.”

(Source: WXYZ Detroit, “Michigan ranked most dangerous state for winter driving,” November 19, 2019)

Here in Michigan, the risks of winter driving present a significant safety challenge for drivers.

Recently, on just one Friday morning, there were seven car crashes on a several-mile stretch of I-94 in West Michigan’s Van Buren County. You may also recall the 29-car pileup on I-94 during Michigan winter road conditions in 2018.

Michigan State Police has found that approximately 65% of the overall winter car accidents involve drivers driving “too fast for conditions.” The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning emphasizes this point in its “Drive Slow on Ice and Snow” public safety campaign when it reminds drivers: “Most winter crashes are caused by drivers traveling too fast for conditions.”

Our auto accident attorneys know from first-hand experience helping car crash victims that speed – especially excessive speed with Michigan winter road conditions – is the top contributing factor to causing otherwise completely preventable winter car accidents.

With thanks to the Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit, our own car accident lawyers were able to obtain crash data that highlights what road segments had the most winter car accidents during Michigan winter road conditions, within the five-year period of 2014 through 2018.

Every Michigan winter is different, but with no two seasons alike, we felt a five-year period would provide a better overall picture instead of just focusing on one season alone.

Below are the Michigan roads that put you at the highest risk for winter car accidents. .

Top 10 Road Segments With Most Winter Car Accidents in Michigan 2018

  1. Eastbound I-94 Between 41st Street and Paw Paw Road, Paw Paw Twp, Van Buren County – 54 Total Crashes, 5 Injury Crashes
  2. Northbound I-475 Between Atherton Road Ramp and S Grand Traverse Street, Flint, Genesee County – 53 Total Crashes, 16 Injury Crashes
  3. Eastbound I-96 Between the I-96 Crossover and 68th Avenue, Polkton Twp, Ottawa County – 53 Total Crashes, 8 Injury Crashes
  4. Westbound I-94 Between 66th Street and N County Line, Hartford Twp, Van Buren County – 53 Total Crashes, 8 Injury Crashes
  5. Westbound I-94 Between County Road 681 and 62nd Street, Hartford Twp, Van Buren County – 50 Total Crashes, 8 Injury Crashes
  6. Westbound I-96 Between 24th Avenue and Crossover East of 48th Avenue, Wright Twp, Ottawa County – 50 Total Crashes, 3 Injury Crashes
  7. Eastbound I-96 Between the Crossover East of 48th Avenue and 24th Avenue, Wright Twp, Ottawa County – 48 Total Crashes, 7 Injury Crashes
  8. Sprinkle Road Between Michigan Avenue and E Main Street, Comstock Twp, Kalamazoo County – 47 Total Crashes, 14 Injury Crashes and 1 Fatality
  9. Southbound US-131 Between 44th St Entrance Ramp and 54th St Exit Ramp, Wyoming, Kent County – 45 Total Crashes, 8 Injury Crashes
  10. Eastbound I-94 Between County Road and Crossover East of 30th St, Antwerp Twp, Van Buren County – 42 Total Crashes, 5 Injury Crashes

Note: These statistics refer to winter car accidents that occurred from 2014 through 2018 where the Michigan winter road conditions were reported to be snow, slush and/or ice. Additionally, a “road segment” is defined as a stretch of any public road, varying in length but usually a mile or less.

(Source: Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit )

Common characteristics for roadways with a high frequency of winter car accidents

When looking at stretches of public roads and highways in Michigan, it should come as no surprise that most of the road segments with high numbers of winter car accidents are major freeways throughout the state. With varying speeds, commercial trucks and on/off ramps, freeways pose many hazards in winter conditions.

Additionally, many of the road segments listed above are popular high-speed routes between larger cities.

Finally, all but one of the top ten roads above are in West Michigan.

Road segments that deserve special attention to prevent winter car accidents

Watch out for the following areas that appeared on the list:

  • I-96 in Wright Township, northwest of Grand Rapids: The number 6 and 7 spots on the list are along the same stretch with a combined total of 98 crashes during Michigan winter road conditions over the five-year period we examined.
  • Sprinkle Road, east of Kalamazoo: This was the only road segment in the top ten list that was not an interstate highway and also the only one with a fatality during Michigan winter road conditions.
  • I-475 in Flint: Not only was this stretch of highway number two on the list, it also had the highest number of crashes involving injury during Michigan winter road conditions of any road segment in the state during this five-year period.

Our auto accident attorneys hope that by sharing this list, we can help make drivers aware of areas that put you and your families at higher risk of being involved in a winter car accident. We encourage drivers to pay attention to weather and Michigan winter road conditions, slow down and drive for the conditions to minimize your risk of an auto accident.

SAFETY REMINDER: Slowing down is always your best defense during icy Michigan winter road conditions and winter weather.

For more safety-related information, visit our Michigan’s Most Dangerous Intersections page for a complete list of intersection car crashes that can be searched by any Michigan city or county. Also, please check out our list of Michigan’s 2018 Top 20 Most Dangerous Intersections.

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