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Safe winter driving can save lives so use great caution

With winter well on its way, we’re starting to see snow, ice and slush on the roads. Many of us even had to dig out our ice shovels and snow scrapers on Monday morning.

And this means it’s critical to brush up on safe winter driving habits, as the Michigan State Police reported over 220,000 winter-related crashes in the state between 2015 and 2019, with over 3,100 that involved serious and fatal injuries.

“Between 2015-2019, there were 402 fatalities and 2,699 serious injuries on icy, snowy, or slushy roads in Michigan,” information from the MSP’s Drive Slow on Ice and Snow campaign states. “And while it’s easy to blame the weather, every driver can take responsibility for winter driving safety by following a few simple tips.”

Officials emphasized that most “winter driving crashes are caused by drivers going too fast for the roadway conditions,” which means many of these crashes, injuries and fatalities were preventable.

The Michigan State Police’s Office of Highway Safety Planning, which organized the campaign, is spreading the word about the following actions that can make winter driving safer:

≤ Slow down and allow more room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. This gives you more time to react and brake, reducing your crash risk, as it can take up to 10 times longer to stop your vehicle on snowy and/or icy roads.

≤ Put your turn signal on sooner than you would in warm weather months, as it also takes longer for the cars behind you to react and stop.

≤ Avoid distractions now more than ever, as taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds robs you of precious reaction time. Put your phone away and don’t try to multitask.

≤ Watch for black ice. Black ice, a very thin and nearly invisible layer of ice that makes the road look wet, is another reason to slow down this winter. Stay alert for black ice on bridges, ramps and overpasses, after sudden drops in temperature and in shaded areas.

≤ Avoid a ticket. Michigan laws require drivers to move at a speed that is “reasonable and proper” for the road conditions. Even if you are driving at or below the speed limit, you could get a speeding ticket if the road conditions make that speed unreasonable for safe driving.

We hope Yoopers and all who venture out on to the roads in wintry weather will heed this advice, as taking it slow on snow and ice can save lives. For more winter driving safety tips, visit https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_64773_22760-539923–,00.html.

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