Winter is fast approaching. Many years, in Michigan, snow begins to fall and roads get slick even before the official start of the season. Find out what you can do now to avoid winter car accidents.
Michigan residents are wise to keep two sets of tires: all-weather as well as dedicated snow tires. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but, "all-weather" tires simply don't hold up to the ice and snow of Michigan winters. Snow tires are made of softer rubber, which allows them to grip snow-covered roads more tightly, helping you to avoid winter car accidents. However, this softer rubber also wears out faster on dry concrete, so be sure to switch back after the spring thaw.
No matter what kind of tire you use, make sure you monitor the tire-pressure on your vehicle. When the weather turns cold, the air in your tires compresses. Most modern vehicles are equipped with tire-pressure monitors, but if your car is older than 2008, you may need to take your tire pressure by hand, or purchase an after-market sensor. If you aren't monitoring them, your tires could become under-inflated in the cold. That could lead to a blow out or other winter car accident.
Breaking down can be inconvenient and expensive no matter the weather, but in the winter, decreased visibility and freezing temperatures can turn an unexpected stop on the shoulder into a serious auto accident. Avoid winter car accidents by making sure all regular maintenance is up to date, and all your fluids are topped off, including:
In the winter, it's a good idea to keep at least half a tank of gas in your car. This can reduce the risk of your fuel freezing and leaving you stranded in a parking lot in the cold.
Winter weather can turn quickly, plunging drivers into ice and snow at a moment's notice. Plan ahead. Consider installing a weather app on your smart phone, or looking up radar images before you hit the road. If inclement weather is in your path, wait it out. You may also be able to take an alternate route that avoids the worst of the winter storm.
While you are watching the storm, it may be tempting to get your car warmed up so you can avoid the frigid temperatures. However, running your car in your garage to warm it up can be dangerous. The exhaust from your vehicle will be trapped in the enclosed area, putting you and your family at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Whenever there is snow on the roads or in the air, traffic naturally moves slower. Don't rush. Wintry conditions can make it harder for vehicles around you to react to passing vehicles or slower traffic. Avoid a winter car accident by giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. That way you won't be in a hurry and tempted to cut corners that could result in a crash.
Leaving extra time also means time to stop, and start. Slick roads make it harder to stop when emergencies arise. Try to leave at least 8 to 10 seconds of stopping time between you and the car in front of you. Ice at intersections can also make spin outs a real danger, and can prevent oncoming traffic from stopping at red lights. Accelerate and brake slowly and gradually, leaving extra time for your snow tires to catch the road and keeping you in control of the vehicle.
Michigan residents often joke that everyone forgets how to drive when the snow flies. It is an exaggeration, but it has a grain of truth. When the weather starts to turn, practice your winter driving skills. Know what to do when your car begins to skid or slide. Practice responding to fishtailing or other driving emergencies, so you know what to do when they happen on the road. Know how your car reacts to winter weather. Do you have antilock brakes? What about traction control? Take time to learn your car's safety features and how they can help you avoid a winter car accident.
At Sachs Waldman, we would rather our clients avoid a winter car accident. But when they do happen, we have extensive experience helping auto accident victims recover damages from no-fault insurance providers and at-fault drivers. We know what happens when winter driving turns dangerous, and we can provide you clear legal advice. Contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.
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