Many Michigan motorists would agree that navigating icy and snow-covered roads is challenging. At times it’s downright terrifying. However, since most of us cannot avoid driving during the winter months, it helps to understand the risks before getting behind the wheel. Here is a summary of winter car accident statistics every driver should know.
According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, approximately 156,164 auto accidents occur each year due to icy roads.
24% of all weather-related vehicle crashes each year occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement.
Driving through snowfall or sleet accounts for 17% of all car accidents year-round.
Of the more than 1.5 million total crashes reported in Michigan from 2015-2019, 220,526 (14.2%) were winter-weather related, according to data from Michigan State Police.
Here are some statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) and the Auto Insurance Center.
Yearly averages for accidents involving snowy, slushy or icy roads:
Yearly averages for accidents that occur during snowfall or sleet:
In Michigan, from 2015 – 2019, 402 people died and another 2,699 people were seriously injured in accidents on icy, snowy or slushy roads
While winter accidents occur for a number of reasons, most of them are precipitated by hazardous road conditions such as ice and snow. While it is not always possible to avoid swerving on ice, many accidents are caused by those who fail to modify their driving behavior for winter road conditions.
Here are some examples:
Recommended reading: Icy Road Accidents: Who is at Fault for a Car Accident on Ice? [+ 27 Tips for Safer Winter Driving]
About 70% of accidental deaths that occur during the winter happen in cars.
It can take up to 10 times longer to stop on wet or icy roads than on dry pavement.
The use of road salt on four-lane highways reduces crashes by as much as 93%.
Michigan has the highest number of winter driving fatalities in the U.S., followed by Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.
The national insurance aggregation site The Zebra surveyed 2,000 motorists about winter driving. Here’s what they said:
46% said they had not prepared their vehicles for winter driving.
Only 8% of survey respondents had winter emergency kits in their cars.
About 36% of drivers are comfortable driving in snow accumulations of 1 – 3 inches.
Only 13% feel comfortable driving in 4 – 11 inches of snow.
The most winter-related car crashes happen in December.
There are 29% more car accidents in summer than in winter, mainly because there are more vehicles on the road, including more teen drivers, during summer.
The most fatal car accidents occur in August, followed by July, October, June and September.
The July 4th weekend has more traffic deaths than any other holiday weekend.
There is a greater risk of fatal auto accidents during any holiday weekend when more people are traveling in cars, including Memorial Day.
An analysis of 10 years of crash data from the Office of Highway Safety Planning revealed where the most ice- and snow-related accidents took place across the state:
1) I-75 from downtown Detroit to 9 Mile Road (mile marker 50 to 60)
2) I-96 from Novi to Livonia (mile marker 160 to 170)
3) I-196 from Grandville to Grand Rapids (mile marker 70 to 80)
4) U.S. 131 through Grand Rapids (mile marker 80 to 90)
5) U.S. 31 through Muskegon (mile marker 110 to 120)
6) I-94 from Detroit Metro Airport to Dearborn (mile marker 200 to 210)
7) I-94 near St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (mile marker 20 to 30)
8) I-69 between Flint and Bishop International Airport (mile marker 130 to 140)
9) I-94 between Lawrence and Paw Paw in Van Buren County (mile marker 50 to 60)
10) I-96 from Detroit to I-275/M-14 in Plymouth (mile marker 170 to 180)
“Staying safe on winter roads means adapting our driving habits to accommodate icy pavement and reduced visibility,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Make sure your car is ready for winter, including a good set of snow tires, and reduce your speed and following distance when roads are hazardous. And, if you do have an accident, call us right away, before you sign any insurance papers.”
Even careful drivers can be involved in a crash, especially when the roads are icy or snow-covered. Michigan No-Fault law is one of the most complex insurance systems in the country. Our experienced auto accident attorneys have the experience and successful track record you need to win the compensation you deserve.
For more information or to get your case started, contact The Sam Bernstein Law Firm or 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.
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