Winter Rain and Car Accidents Across Michigan
Michigan drivers will soon be making the transition from operating their vehicles through the snow and slush to navigating the wintry mix of rain, freezing rain and fog. These are weather conditions often created by temperatures which tease the idea that spring is on the way. But these changes are not necessarily anything to welcome. When wet winter weather hits, roads will be soaked across much of the state and several driver safety issues arise. In fact, winter crash reports remain high even after the snow has melted. Rain can cause rapidly deteriorating road conditions, mostly after sunset hours, because as temperatures dip below freezing and water is on the pavement, slick, unnoticeable ice and cold puddled waterways will fill the streets.
To avoid being involved in a wet winter wreck, we invite you to pay attention to these reminders from our team of auto accident attorneys. In addition, be sure to drive slower, remain alert and not distracted, stay extra cautious, keep your vehicle in good working condition, and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Water and Oil Create Slick Roads
Even the slightest sprinkle can turn roads slippery within just a half hour. Oil and road debris dropped from passing vehicles have not had time to wash away and will turn slick as icy patches blend with them. Be ready for this and if you find your vehicle starting to skid:
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Turn the front wheels only enough to keep them pointed in the direction you want to go and no farther.
- Be prepared for a secondary skid in the opposite direction.
- Again, turn the wheels in the direction you want to go. Then straighten the wheels to bring the vehicle under control.
Your brakes may also become an issue because of the rain. If they are too wet, they could pull to one side or the other, or they may not hold at all. Check them by slowing down and gently pushing on the brake pedal until the brakes work properly again.
In addition, bursts of heavy rain can quickly reduce driver visibility, so be sure all of your windshield wipers are in working condition.
Snow, Sleet, Fog and Ice Mixes
Too many drivers believe they can handle driving through snow, sleet, ice, and slush with no problems, just because they live in Michigan. However, tragic accidents during the winter months remain all too common across the state. Slow down and allow at least twice the normal following distance when you know conditions may pose a risk to you and other drivers. Watch out especially on bridges and underpasses since those tend to freeze and house black ice before the roads do.
Patches of thick fog may also accompany this weather. If you see fog, turn on your low-beam headlights and be prepared to stop quickly. If fog becomes so thick that you cannot see at all, pull off the road. Turn on the four-way emergency flashers and wait for it to lift.
Avoid Flooded Roads
Rain will melt snow buildups quickly. The ground may also be frozen, and the falling rain and water may not have a place to go other than to trickle onto the road. Small pond-like areas in low-lying street banks and intersections seem to pop up without warning, making it difficult for drivers to stop safely, in time to obey traffic signals, or see pedestrians or crosswalk areas. Hydroplaning, when your tires ride on top of the water on a wet road, can result in a loss of control over your vehicle. Worn tires or driving too fast contribute to hydroplaning so slow down and maintain good tire pressure for seasonal conditions.
Authorities may block off a flooded road with safety barricades. Do not drive around them or weave in and out of them. There may be debris or power lines in the water or the road may have been washed away. If there are no barricades placed at a flooded road, consider reporting the location to authorities and finding an alternate route. Do not drive through deep water.
Don’t Become a Road Hazard
If your vehicle spins out on the road or you find yourself stuck in oncoming traffic, remember that running your wheels and pumping the gas may only create a bigger mess. But if you are in an area where it would be safe to shovel around the wheels and undercarriage to loosen any clogged patches, do so. As you attempt to ease your vehicle out of harm’s way, turn the steering wheel from side to side to clear snow away from the front tires. If that doesn’t work, try rocking the vehicle by shifting into forward and giving it some gas and then shifting it into reverse and accelerating until the vehicle is free. If you have moved your car to a safe place but it has been disabled and can’t drive further, pull as far off the road as possible and dial for help. Put on those emergency lights and stay inside your vehicle with your seat belt buckled until help arrives.
Remember, only try these maneuvers if you are in a safe, visible location where other drivers can see you. If you are not in a safe location, put on your flashers, dial emergency services and wait for help.
Be extremely aware of passing traffic if you must leave your vehicle and walk directly to a safe location far away from the roadway. Please keep in mind that it is dangerous, if not deadly, for a pedestrian to walk on the freeway.
Although safe driving should be a year-round habit, winter driving demands special care and attention. Putting all of this information into good practice and sharing it with others are easy steps you can take towards reducing your risk of being involved in a tragic accident.
Irresponsible Drivers Often Make Bad Choices
If you have been injured in an auto or truck accident because another driver made unsafe decisions this winter, the vehicle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg are ready to help you move forward and hold that person accountable. Not only can a personal injury lawsuit help ease financial burdens for you, but it can help bring road safety issues to light and alert drivers of serious dangers. Please call and speak to our car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.