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Winter hazards are a serious threat in Michigan

As winter approaches in Michigan, it's clear that snow is on the way. With colder weather, ice, snow and sleet can become the enemies of drivers. The Weather Channel reports that weather-related accidents are more deadly than floods, hurricanes or tornadoes combined. If that sounds frightening, you're right.

Weather has the potential to change the way drivers act. For instance, new drivers may slow down excessively or exaggerate their movements. Drivers with experience may not change what they do, but not accounting for ice or snow could lead to a crash.

Weather-related crashes kill more people yearly than larger-scale weather-related disasters. The most common times for deaths related to the weather are fall through early spring, when the weather hazards include conditions such as rain, snow, ice and fog.

Between 2007 and 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation stated that 5.8 million crashes or more occur. Of those, around 1.2 million were a result of hazardous weather.

How can you stay safe in hazardous weather conditions?

To stay safe in hazardous weather conditions, you should make sure you first always have knowledge on what the conditions are expected to be. When you head out, know if there is snow, ice or rain expected. Understand if there is wind or a risk of a blizzard. Knowing the weather to expect is half of the battle.

Next, you should prepare for that weather. Include food, water, blankets and other essentials in case you end up having to stop or become stranded as a result of the weather. Keep your mobile phone on hand, too, so you can call for help if you're stranded or an accident occurs.

When you check the weather, it's wise to decide if you feel comfortable driving in the conditions. If you don't, it's better to stay home or where you are rather than trying to drive in unsafe conditions. Waiting a few hours for the weather to calm down could be the difference between getting into a crash and making your way to your destination safely.

Finally, if you're caught in bad weather, it's important to slow down and take your time getting to your destination. Use your hazard lights to let others know that you're slowing down due to the surrounding circumstances. Be aware of the drivers around you, and prepare to pull over to the side of the road if the conditions worsen.

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