Review these quick driving tips for a safe Michigan winter
Who doesn’t love the beauty of a white Christmas? But with the breathtaking views also comes the often treacherous driving conditions that result from the snow, ice and wind.
The best way to avoid an accident is to stay off the roads and wait for the snow plows. But for many of us, work and family obligations make leaving the house unavoidable. Keep your family safe this winter with these quick tips from our Michigan personal injury attorneys:
1. Is your car prepared for winter driving in Michigan?
- Wipers: Make sure your wipers work and the blades are still effective.
- Fluids: Check the antifreeze and window-washer fluids and top off if necessary.
- Tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have good tread. Use winter tires if possible. It may be smart to keep your tire pressure just below the max PSI to increase the surface area of your tread.
- Battery: Check your battery to ensure it’s in good condition and has sufficient charge.
2. Do you have an emergency kit in each of your vehicles?
In case you become stuck or weather conditions leave you stranded, it is wise to keep an emergency kit in each of your vehicles. Your emergency kits should include:
- winter coat and warm clothing (sweaters/sweatshirts, pants, hat, scarf, gloves, socks, boots)
- non-perishable foods
- flashlights with new batteries
- portable phone charger and battery-operated radio
- first aid kit
- sand, salt or kitty litter
- jumper cables
- tow rope
- state map in case of detours and/or no cell reception
3. Before leaving your driveway…
- Defrost your car. Make sure your windows and mirrors are defrosted. Remove snow and ice from your roof, windshield and lights. This also allows time for your engine to warm up for better operation.
- Buckle up for safety! It is also recommended to stay buckled up if you become stranded in case you are struck by another vehicle.
- Turn on your lights and turn off your high beams. Help other drivers see you by turning on your lights, but keep your high beams off in fog and snow for better visibility and as a courtesy to other drivers.
4. Drive based on the weather conditions.
- Drive slowly. Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.627) states “A person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than or less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing. A person shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.”
- Leave early. Allow yourself extra travel time to avoid being late and reduce the urge to speed.
- Do not tailgate. For every 10 miles per hour, leave one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Accelerate slowly and brake with caution. Avoid abrupt turns, slamming on your breaks and unnecessary lane changes. Do not pump anti-lock brakes.
- If you start to skid… Keep your feet off the pedals, check your mirrors and steer into the skid. Do not brake. If you have front-wheel or all-wheel drive, accelerating gently may help you straighten and regain control.
- Do not use cruise control in snowy or icy conditions. Stay alert.
- Slow down before bridges. Bridges, overpasses and shady parts of the road get icy before other parts. Approach these with caution.
- Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. Use your hazard lights if you want other drivers to pass you or if you are in distress.
- Use a lower gear when possible. Help control your speed by downshifting, particularly on a decline.
5. If you become stuck…
- Open a window, turn off your car and/or clear snow from in and around your exhaust pipe to ensure fresh air inside your vehicle.
- Do not spin your wheels. This will cause your wheels to dig deeper.
- Turn the steering wheel from side to side and shovel around the tires and undercarriage to help clear snow and debris away from your tires. Then gently try to drive out.
- If that is unsuccessful, try rocking the vehicle back and forth. Shift into forward and accelerate, then shift into reverse and accelerate until the vehicle can move.
6. Take extra precautions. Before you venture out, check the local weather reports. Communicate your travel plans and routes to family members when possible. Do not drive distracted — avoid texting and talking while driving. And remember, it is always illegal to drink and drive. Please be safe this winter!
In the unfortunate event you are involved in a car accident resulting in personal injury, Noud and Noud can help you. Contact our Lansing car accident lawyers today for a free consultation. We help accident victims rebuild their lives and get the care and compensation they deserve.