Upper Peninsula Man Dies in County Snowplow Accident
Michigan drivers may be better than most at driving in heavy snow, ice, and slush yet tragic accidents still occur each year and some ironically involve work vehicles assigned to the state-maintained highway system to protect drivers from snow and ice buildups.
Authorities in Ontonagon County recently reported that a 48-year-old man from White Pine died in the Upper Peninsula after his car crashed into the rear of a snowplow truck. The accident report states the driver was operating a Volkswagen Golf when it rear-ended a county truck on M-64. While the crash is currently under investigation by the local sheriff’s department, speed and alcohol are expected to have been contributing factors.
Snowplow trucks typically weigh 12-25 times more than the average car. Fully equipped trucks with a typical single axle can weigh about 23,000 pounds and a tandem tri-axle truck weighs 50,000 pounds. Drivers of passenger vehicles who collide with these big trucks while the snowplow is engaged in snow and ice removal are more likely to be catastrophically injured because of the size of the vehicle, extra equipment hazards such as blades, as well as the force of the collision.
Help Snowplow Drivers Keep Roads Safe
Fatalities from winter crashes remain on the rise, giving the state the dubious distinction of possessing one of the highest averages of cold weather-related accidents. To avoid being involved in a wreck this season, especially one with a heavy snowplow, you should drive slower, remain alert, be extra cautious and avoid being in an accident with a snowplow truck by following the “Don’t Crowd the Plow” driving rules provided by the County Road Association of Michigan.
- Keep a safe distance from snowplows.
Plow drivers can’t see directly behind their trucks. Sometimes they must stop or back up. Staying a safe distance behind a snowplow will protect you from possible injury and protect your car from sanding material that plows spread on slick roadways.
- Know where the snowplow is on multi-lane highways.
The plow could be in either lane, or on the shoulder. Watch for snowplows on interstate ramps and “authorized vehicle only” turnarounds.
In addition, never drive through a snow cloud or whiteout conditions. You really can’t be too sure if low visibility is caused by naturally blowing winter snow or by an engaged snowplow. If you are unsure about what to do when approaching a snowplow in Michigan, green flashing lights were recently incorporated on winter maintenance vehicles this winter. But green doesn’t really mean GO – in this case, green means SLOW DOWN. The green lights may be flashing, rotating or oscillating on 70 percent of their winter maintenance vehicles. Amber lights may also be used to alert motorists to approach with caution.
Most accidents involving snowplow trucks can be caused by both new or experienced drivers, but some crashes are triggered by snowplow operator errors. Blowing, drifting snow mixed with slick and wet pavement, as well inexperienced truck operators, can pose a risk and provide for hazardous plowing. Snowplow drivers should be trained to check and work their equipment, stay sober and alert, follow all traffic laws and if a public worker, be closely supervised.
Injured in a Winter Driving Accident?
If yes, we don’t have to tell you about the difficulties of recovering from a serious injury or looking after a loved one while ensuring physical, emotional and financial stability. The Michigan auto accident attorneys at the Offices of Lee Steinberg understand these things well, and we have a long history of representing clients who need help to recover.
If you’ve been in a winter driving accident with a snowplow truck, contact us today for your FREE consultation or call 1-800-LEE-FREE.