Winter Safe Driving Tips
Last week wintry weather blasted back to Michigan with snow accumulations of 3” or more on the west side of the state and four feet of snow near Iron Mountain in the UP!
As our roads get slick and we navigate our way to work, to school or even to get a jump start on our holiday shopping, accidents happen as drivers skid and slide on snow and ice. Every year, when the first serious snowfall causes crashes, we all remark that our fellow Michiganders seem to have forgotten how to drive. Now is the time we should all be reminded to put good snow and ice safe driving habits back into practice and keep them
top of mind and my clients are already asking what they can do to be safe on the roads this winter.
The accident experts I’ve worked with all seem to agree that tires are the single most important safety factor on our car. Worn down tires are extremely dangerous, especially in winter. Checking to see if they are too worn down is easy. Using a penny inserted into the tread of a tire, the tread should at least come up to the imprint of Abraham Lincoln’s head. Anything less than that (2/32nds of an inch) and you may need new tires. Of course
this is just a quick check and it’s a good idea to confirm your results. If you don’t have a tire gauge or know how to use one, most of the quick oil change stores will check your tires
too, and do it for free.
Remember to give yourself extra time to get to your destination. All too often, I talk to victims of winter car crashes who were hit by someone simply driving too fast for the road conditions.
What else can you do?
Turn on your car headlights and make sure they’re cleared of snow. When visibility is poor, keeping your headlights on is critical.
Clear ice and snow from all windows and don’t forget to clear the roof of your car too. Snow blowing off the roof right on to your windshield is dangerous and often unexpected. Posted speed limits are for dry pavement! You can’t expect to be able to travel as fast and be safe when Michigan roads are snowy, wet or icy.
Keeping warm blankets, winter clothes and a shovel in your car can save your life if you get stuck.
Snow plow drivers may not be able to see you! They have a limited field of vision. Passing a snow plow driver can easily cause a crash. In fact, the safest place to drive is behind a plow truck. I know it’s tempting to pass them but remember roads in front of the plow or salt truck have not been treated.
Allow extra room to stop. Enough said. (By the way four wheel drive will help you start and accelerate faster but it does not help when you attempt to stop.)
Let’s hope we won’t have to deal with another Polar Vortex this winter in Michigan, but even so, snow and ice are inevitable and these common sense safety precautions can save lives.