All Michigan drivers know that driving in winter is more challenging than driving any other time of year. The gloom, dark, snow, ice, and cold all combine in ways that make daily life, including driving, harder. Most of the time this translates into longer commutes, fender benders, or minor parking lot accidents. However, there are 116,000 injuries that result from winter car accidents every year. What are the most common causes of winter car accidents, and how can drivers prevent them?
Cause #1- Slick Road Conditions
Roads become harder to navigate when they’re wet, but when the temperature rises and falls above and below freezing, it makes things much more dangerous. It’s hard to know how your car’s wheels will react to water, freezing rain, snow, and ice, let alone a mix of these. The most dangerous of these is probably black ice because it’s difficult to see and extremely slick to drive on.
Most Michiganders know how to drive in snow (even if some of them temporarily forget over the summer), but no one’s an expert when it comes to ice. Braking is a real trick and often leads to spinouts and rear-end collisions. The best driving advice is to avoid driving when road conditions seriously deteriorate. If you must drive, go slowly and leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so that you don’t feel rushed and take chances.
Cause #2 – Poor Visibility
The second cause of accidents is poor visibility. Rain, snow, hail, and ice on the windshield makes it much harder to see. Snowbanks grow bigger the longer winter lasts, and it can be hard to see around them in parking lots or on the side of the road. People often do not fully clear their cars of snow before they drive them. This can lead to snow falling in a clump on the windshield while driving or even ice breaking off and hitting other cars!
Always clear your car fully of all snow and ice before you drive it and make sure that your defroster is working and your windshield wipers are functional and not frozen to the windshield. Too many people drive with just a small part of the windshield cleared, peering through a tiny section of scraped glass. This is very dangerous. Driving under dangerous weather conditions with reduced visibility is a very good way to get into an accident, so use good judgment!
Cause #3 – Badly Maintained Vehicles
Going into winter driving season with a car that has problems is courting danger. Most auto techs will recommend a routine checkup before the weather gets bad, but if you cannot afford to have a checkup, you should make sure that your tires are in good condition with good traction and no bald spots. If your windshield wipers aren’t fully clearing away precipitation, switch them out before winter starts, and make sure that your wiper fluid is topped off. Having enough wiper fluid can be a lifesaver on the highway when trucks and other cars are throwing up ice and salt on your windshield. Finally, make sure your headlights and taillights are working. If you cannot signal your location and intentions with your lights, you will not be able to communicate and your car will be invisible to other drivers.
Winter is a bad time to have a car accident because it’s cold and road conditions are dangerous. It can take much longer for a police officer or a tow truck to reach your car and have it towed to an auto body shop for repair. To avoid this outcome, be aware of the common causes of winter car accidents and proactive about your driving and your car’s condition. If you do have a car accident, don’t hesitate to call Star Collision in Grand Rapids or Star of Rockford in Rockford. We will help you get your car back in good condition again in no time.