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Michigan Snow Plow Car Accidents: Prevention With Green Oscillating Lights

January 3, 2024 by Steven M. Gursten

Green lights on MDOT snow plows reduces car accidents making them more visible and alerting motorists to the need for caution in wintery conditions

Michigan snow plow car accident prevention

The oscillating green safety lights we see on the backs of Michigan snow plows are there to prevent a car snow plow accident. Because they are easier to see, drivers able to be more aware, reduce their speed, and exercise more care to avoid a rear-end crash with a plow.

The green lights are aimed at reducing the number of Michigan snow plow car accidents in wintery conditions.

The safety goal of the green snow lights is four-fold:

  • The green lights on snow plows help to alert motorists to wintery, low-visibility conditions.
  • They serve as a reminder to drive at an appropriate speed because of winter road conditions.
  • The green lights raise motorists’ awareness of the presence of snow plows – whose drivers are putting themselves at risk to clear the roadways and make them safer for motorists.
  • By increasing visibility and awareness, the oscillating green safety lights will prevent rear-end crashes involving snow plows.

Accident lawyers like myself applaud the green, safety lights. They’re much more effective than amber lights at catching motorists’ attention. Drivers who are more alert and attentive are less likely to be involved in a crash with a snow plow.

Difference between green and amber snow plow lights

Kent County Road Commission Deputy Managing Director Jerry Byrne explains that the green lights on snow plows are catching drivers’ attention and reducing car accidents in Michigan whereas the amber lights just weren’t getting the job done:

  • “We haven’t had any rear-end accidents with the green lights on the trucks . . .  and that’s what we’re really trying to eliminate. Folks slow down and don’t rear-end the backs of the trucks. We’ve had injury incidents in the past, so our goal is to spend a little money to save the number of accidents.” (MDOT video, “When Green Means Slow“)
  • Because amber lights were being “used by so many different entities that motorists become numb to them” and they “ignor[e] the crew’s amber caution lights” and, thus, motorists “weren’t slowing down for plow trucks.” (WOOD TV 8) 

How will oscillating green lights prevent a car snow plow accident in Michigan?

Here’s what the MDOT has to say about the safety benefits of oscillating green lights on the backs of snow plows:

  • “Studies suggest that humans can differentiate more shades of green than any other color. Better visibility with green lights means safer roads for winter maintenance workers and motorists.” (MDOT, “Green Lights on Snowplows“)
  • “Green lights will alert motorists to drive with caution during inclement weather conditions and low visibility. The goal is to reduce rear-end crashes and improve safety on the road.” (MDOT, “Green Means Slow”)
  • “Our visual system would be more attracted to a bright green light versus a bright white flashing light in a heavy snowstorm . . . Our visual system is piqued to be sensitive to the green/yellow spectrum.” (Dr. Bernie Tekiele of the Michigan Eye Institute, quoted in the MDOT video, “When Green Means Slow“)

What does Michigan law say about oscillating green lights on snow plows?

To prevent a car snow plow accident, the Michigan Vehicle Code allows snow plows to use oscillating green lights. Specifically, the new law provides:

“Flashing, rotating, or oscillating … green lights, placed in a position as to be visible throughout an arc of 360 degrees, must be used by a state, county, or municipal vehicle engaged in the removal of ice, snow, or other material from the highway and in other operations designed to control ice and snow . . .” (MCL 257.698(5)(d))

Injured in a car accident with a snow plow? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law now!

If you were injured in a car accident with a snow plow in Michigan, call now (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation an experienced car accident lawyer. 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.

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Michigan Snow Plow Car Accidents: Prevention With Green Oscillating Lights

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