Any time you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, there is some degree of risk involved. Certain factors can contribute to that risk, increasing the potential for a collision and serious injuries or death. For people who live in Michigan, particularly the Upper Peninsula, the powerful winter weather can be a major factor that contributes to risk in a vehicle.
Although different areas of Michigan receive different levels of snow fall annually and have different average temperatures, the whole state, from Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie to Escanaba has more severe winters than many other states. Drivers across the state need to take special steps to reduce the risk posed by winter weather conditions.
Pay attention to maintenance needs and invest in snow tires
One of the best things you can do to reduce your risk for a winter crash is to maintain your vehicle as best as possible. Failing breaks or other mechanical issues could increase your risk for a collision in inclement weather. Before the snow starts sticking around, you should schedule a visit with a trusted mechanic to ensure that everything on your vehicle is in working order.
Similarly, the late fall and early winter are a good time to change out your summer tires for snow tires. You may even need to buy new tires if your old snow tires have gotten worn down. Loss of traction on slippery roads is a major contributor to winter crashes, so anything you can do to improve traction is a good idea. Newer tires and tires designed to offer better traction in cold, wet and icy conditions will offer the best protection from losing control of your vehicle on icy or slippery roads.
Slow down and adjust your schedule to leave earlier
You never know when a storm is going to hit, and the weather forecast can miss showers or major storms that seemingly blow in out of nowhere. Commuting to work in the morning after a storm can be a slow and dangerous trip. Your best hope for safety comes from being able to drive slowly and not feeling panic or stress due to running late. Depending on the severity of the storm and the amount of snowfall, you may have to substantially decrease the speed of your vehicle to stay safe on the roads.
Getting up earlier can ensure you leave with plenty of time for your drive. While cold winter mornings aren't the most inviting thing in the world, waking up a few minutes early is preferable to experiencing a major collision in the winter. Plan for an extra 30-50 percent of your typical drive time.
Of course, you can't control how others drive in the snow. Remaining alert can reduce your risks, but a driver who has lost control of a vehicle could still cause a crash and serious injuries. Stay alert and stay safe on those freezing winter roads.