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michigan for the winter

10 Tips for Driving Safely in Michigan for the Winter

January 2, 2020

Michigan is a haven for ski buffs, boating enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its beautiful scenery, an abundance of lakes and diverse cities and towns, our state offers many advantages. Unfortunately, winter driving is not one of them. Every year, many people are seriously injured or killed on icy and snow-covered roads. Here are some tips, compiled from a variety of traffic safety experts, to help you drive more safely in Michigan for the winter.

Slow down to accommodate weather and road conditions

  • If you notice your anti-lock brakes and traction control systems are engaging often, you are likely driving too fast. 
  • Keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. Increase your following distance from the standard 3-4 seconds to 8-10 seconds. 
  • Avoid using cruise control in hazardous weather.

Don’t drive too slowly

Slowing down too much can be dangerous for drivers traveling at normal speeds. Adjust your speed to accommodate weather conditions, but try to keep up with the flow of traffic in Michigan for the winter.

Equip your car with appropriate tires for winter driving

  • Consider investing in a set of winter tires. They may be pricey, but the safety benefits for you and your family will far outweigh the cost. 
  • Tire pressure drops in colder weather, so check your tires on a regular basis.
  • Tread should be no less than 2/32 in for all-season tires.

Prepare your vehicle for winter weather

  • Top off coolant and use wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees. 
  • Make sure your battery is in proper working order.
  • Check wiper blades and replace if necessary.
  • Be sure your car’s heating system is in good working order, especially the defroster. 
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Clean headlamps, side-view mirrors, and back-up camera lens. 

Know how to handle your vehicle in the event of a skid or a spinout

  • Steer in the direction of the skid. 
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Don’t stop when going uphill.
  • On a snowy road, steer to one side where the snow is whiter and less packed. If possible, try to avoid driving in the darker tracks, which are typically more slippery.  

Be prepared for emergencies

Keep an emergency kit in your car with the following items:

  • Extra jacket and gloves 
  • Rain poncho 
  • Reflective vest or armbands
  • Blanket 
  • Reflectors or flares 
  • Sand or cat litter to create traction if your vehicle becomes stuck
  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit and/or a multipurpose utility tool
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Extra cell phone charger
  • First aid kit
  • Nonperishable, high-energy foods, such as nuts, dried fruits and protein bars
  • Drinking water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel and snow brush
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Phone numbers for your auto insurance company and towing company or roadside service

Allow extra time to reach your destination

When leaving your home or office, build in time to clean off your windshields and warm up your car. Allow additional travel time to accommodate hazardous roads or slow-moving traffic in Michigan for the winter.

Don’t be a distracted driver

Staying alert is especially important when driving in Michigan for the winter. Avoid using cell phones, electronic devices or engaging in other distracting behaviors while driving. In addition, never drive (in any weather) when you are tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Don’t take risks if your vehicle gets stuck 

  • Run the car just long enough to stay warm. 
  • Don’t idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. 
  • Stay in the car until help arrives.
  • Don’t venture out in freezing temperatures unless absolutely necessary.

Be safe instead of sorry

If at all possible, do not drive when the roads are treacherous. No meeting or appointment is worth risking your life or someone else’s.

“If you do have an accident this winter, contact us immediately,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Our experienced accident lawyers will fight to win the compensation you and your family deserve.”

Michigan auto accident laws are complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple. 

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.