Michigan winters are not known for being easy. Michigan gets more snow and ice than many other states and knowing how to drive safely in the winter is extremely important.
It is tempting to blame the weather for an accident, but the truth is that drivers are typically to blame. Except in extreme circumstances, such as a blizzard, you can generally drive in winter weather if you are safe and responsible.
What the law says about your speed in the winter
Driving too fast for conditions is a major cause of winter car accidents. Michigan law states that you should drive at a speed that is reasonable and proper for the road conditions.
While there is no exact speed you should drive based on the road conditions, you are expected to use good judgment and common sense. Generally, you should drive below the speed limit when the roads are snowy or icy.
Many drivers ignore this basic rule of road safety and continue to drive at the speed limit, or even worse, over the speed limit, despite the dangerous roads.
According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, it can take drivers up to 10 times longer to stop their vehicles when driving on snowy or icy roads.
Along with driving slowly, keep plenty of room between your vehicle and others around you. This way you have enough room to stop if you must slow down.
How to drive around snowplows
You will likely see many snowplows when driving on winter roads. Knowing how to drive around snowplows could reduce your risk of a car accident.
Snowplows are legally authorized vehicles on the roads. You are legally required to reduce your speed by 10 miles per hour below the speed limit and move your vehicle to an open lane when you see a stationary snowplow.
The law forbids you from passing a snowplow on the right. You can pass on the left but only do so if you must. Remember that snowplows, by nature, move slower and make wide turns and frequent stops. Do not tailgate them as they likely will not be able to see you.
Your options after a winter car accident
Unfortunately, you could be the safest driver in the world and still find yourself the victim of a car accident due to another driver’s negligence on the winter roads.
Injuries from winter car accidents are often serious and involve a long recovery time. Medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering are some examples of what you could receive compensation for through a personal injury action.
Obtaining compensation requires proving the other driver’s negligence. This means proving they failed in their legal duty to drive safely and caused your damages.
Your physical damages can be proved through documents such as medical records, hospital bills or wage statements. Proving mental or emotional damages is usually more challenging, but there are approaches that can increase your chance of recovery for these, as well.
Michigan uses a comparative negligence standard. Your compensation could be reduced if your own negligence contributed to the accident. This is what the other drivers are likely to argue, and why you should know how to build the strongest possible case.