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14 Michigan Winter Driving Tips That Can Save Your Life

November 27, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

14 Winter Driving Tips That Can Save Your Life

As we start the new year and face what will likely be some of our coldest, most wintry weather, it is the perfect time to talk about winter driving tips to prevent car accidents in Michigan.

Whether you’re driving in Metro Detroit or Grand Rapids or the Upper Peninsula, these Michigan winter driving tips will help you and your family arrive safely at your destination.

Winter weather means more auto accidents, in part caused by drivers who are unprepared for snow and ice.

Driving on snowy and icy roads in Michigan is dangerous. Since 2018, there have been on average 22,600 crashes annually involving snowy weather conditions in Michigan:

  • 2018: 27,552 snow-related crashes
  • 2019: 25,135 snow-related crashes
  • 2020: 17,195 snow-related crashes
  • 2021: 18,144 snow-related crashes
  • 2022: 25,058 snow-related crashes

(Source: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, Data Query Tool, Crashes/Entire State/Weather Conditions+2016/Snow/2018-2022)

Significantly, extra care must be taken when driving in Michigan during once the snow flies. Before you head out, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Michigan’s Winter Driving Accident Statistics.

As auto accident lawyers, we want you to get a head start on preparing, so you know what to do. There are easy tips that can get you home safe and sound after an unexpected snowfall or a dramatic drop in temperature.

Preparing your car

Our first 8 Michigan winter driving tips focus on safety precautions you can take to ensure that your car or truck is winter ready to get you and your family safely where you need to go.

By tending to these important safety issues before you and your family take to the road, you’re helping to protect your family and to prevent car accidents.

Importantly, if you’re not experienced and knowledgeable about cars, please entrust a certified mechanic with making sure these safety steps are taken with your family’s car or truck.

Here are the winter driving tips you should follow before heading out onto snow and ice covered roads in Michigan:

  1. Make sure your antifreeze is topped off.
  2. Install new wiper blades.
  3. Fill up your washer fluid. Keep an extra bottle of washer fluid in your trunk.
  4. Check your tires. Here’s an old trick: take a penny and stick it into the tread head first. If you can see Lincoln’s head, it’s time to invest in some new tires.
  5. Check tire air pressure. Do this monthly using a pressure gauge. The correct tire pressure is located on your vehicle’s tire information label (on the technical information sheet inside the driver’s side door) or in the owner’s manual. You can also get them checked at a tire dealer.
  6. Make sure you have a fresh, clean battery. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a technician.
  7. Change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles.
  8. Have an emergency kit just in case. An emergency kit can include blankets, flares, a medical first-aid kit, a flashlight, jumper cables, bottled water, snacks, a shovel, candles and matches.

Michigan winter driving tips while on the road

Our next 6 winter driving safety tips focus on what drivers can do to stay safe once they’re on the road and behind the wheel in Michigan.

Significantly, many people don’t know what to do if they’re faced with black ice or the task of driving through inches of snow.

Here are some winter driving safety tips on how to react in such situations on Michigan roads:

  1. If you find yourself skidding and losing control, then remember that skids can be controlled if you know how to handle them. Don’t let fear take over in case of a skid on ice.
  2. Don’t underestimate slipperiness of the roads. Don’t assume the roads aren’t slippery if it’s not freezing or below freezing. Ice can form on roads at any time the temperature drops to 40 degrees, especially when it’s windy.
  3. Anticipate black ice. Beware of bridges, underpasses, low areas or shaded areas (such as expanses of landscape) and intersections. Ice can lurk in these areas, which might look dry or only slightly wet.
  4. Slow down when visibility and road conditions are bad.
  5. Increase your following distance between vehicles by one car at the very least.
  6. If you’ve been in a minor accident or your car stalls, pull over and stay in your vehicle while you wait for help to arrive. Do not get out to inspect the damage because you run the risk of being hit by another vehicle. As an auto accident attorney, I’ve witnessed many minor crashes turn into catastrophic car accidents when drivers are hit by other motorists after they have exited their vehicles.

Winter driving tips for dealing with skidding wheels on Michigan roads

Skidding is always a scary thing to experience. During winter, it’s even more anxiety producing of how quickly one can lose total control due to ice and snow. Here are a few tips to commit to memory before you take to the road.

Winter driving tips for when rear wheels are skidding on Michigan roads:

  • Steer in the direction would want the front wheels to go. For instance, if your rear-wheels are sliding left, steer left. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your car completely under control.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), which most cars have, apply steady pressure. The brakes will pulse, which is normal.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump gently.

Winter driving tips for when front wheels are skidding on Michigan roads:

  • Shift to neutral.
  • As the wheels skid, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. Steer in the direction you would want to go. Then put the car in drive and gently accelerate.

General safe driving rules also apply to winter driving in Michigan

  • Buckle up your safety belt
  • Don’t drive distracted
  • Don’t text and drive
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Make sure your child is safely secured in a mandated child safety car seat or booster seat

Injured in a car accident on snowy or icy roads in Michigan? Call now!

Unfortunately even if you follow the winter driving tips listed above on Michigan roads, accidents can still happen. If you were injured in a car accident on snowy or icy roads in Michigan, call now (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

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