Late last week and the weekend ushered in arctic temperatures and plenty of snow and ice. Though people were urged to consider staying home through the most dangerous parts of the storm, many people needed to be out and about for various reasons. Tragically and inevitably, this has led to several winter roadway fatalities in a short period of time.
On Thursday just before 3:45 p.m., 16-year-old Stephen Rathbun was driving his vehicle East Beltline Avenue south of Webber Avenue. The Grand Rapids teen lost control of his vehicle in slippery conditions, and the vehicle was t-boned by an SUV. Rathbun, a Northview High School Junior, died at the scene of the accident. The other driver was injured and transported for medical care. She is now in stable condition at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.
Tips for Keeping Control on Wintry Roadways
We don’t yet know the extent to which winter weather conditions impacted the accident that killed Stephen Rathbun or if there were other factors involved in the crash. The investigation is ongoing. That said, both experienced and new drivers can certainly benefit from reviewing safe winter driving habits.
The most obvious suggestion is to slow down. Many drivers underestimate the conditions of the road and continue driving at normal speeds. Experienced drivers can fall into this trap due to overconfidence in their abilities. The fact is, ability means nothing to an icy roadway. If the best driver in the world forgets a sense of caution and forgets that road elements can be unpredictable, an accident is sure to occur. When you need to brake, do so slowly. Be sure to keep your speed low in general and increase your following distance by 3 or 4 times.
Regardless of how careful you are, you may still end up losing control of your vehicle—the key is to remain calm and manage the process as well as you possibly can. In many instances, stopping to avoid a collision may not be your best bet. Instead, you may need to make the decision to steer around the vehicle or object for which you are heading. When roadways are slippery, it can take much longer to stop than normal, and steering around the object may be the safer choice.
Skids are a particular type of loss of control that can occur when a driver breaks too hard or suddenly or drives too fast around a curve in slippery circumstances. Skids are often divided into front-wheel skids and rear-wheel skids, depending on whether it is the front or rear wheels that lose traction. For both types of skid, you should steer in the direction you want to go and avoid overcorrection. Rear-wheel skids tend to be more dangerous and more difficult to correct.
Michigan is likely to be full of icy, snowy roadways for many weeks to come. All of us at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm urge you to be careful out there, especially during the holidays, but for the rest of the winter as well. If tragedy strikes, and you are seriously injured in a vehicle accident, we can help you get back on your feet. Call us for a completely free initial consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.