Michigan and winter go hand in hand. Whether you welcome the cold, snow, and ice, or whether you lament it every year, one thing is for certain: You must be extra careful when it comes to driving in the winter weather conditions so that you can avoid a car crash. And should you find yourself stuck in a snowdrift or something far worse, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Should you find yourself involved in a car crash in the winter months, you will want to be prepared. Of course, you will need your vehicle registration and other identifying details for any law enforcement present at the site of the crash. And you will want to exchange car insurance information with any other people involved in the accident. But there are other things to consider, like the elements: Maybe your car is completely dead. Will you be warm enough in below-freezing temps while you wait for a tow truck? Equip your vehicle with a winter weather kit, including a warm blanket or two, gloves, a hat, scrapers, washer fluid, snacks, and even a portable phone charger. You’ll thank yourself should you end up in a ditch after a spin on a patch of black ice.
Should it be so bitterly cold that you just can’t wait in your car without heat or cover, take refuge in a nearby store, restaurant, or service station to wait for help or your ride. Just make sure you leave a visible and clearly written note on the dashboard or attached to the window so that police or medical responders know where you will be so they can take your statement and determine if you need medical attention.
If you find yourself in whiteout conditions, no one is going to award you a medal for attempting to complete the trek to your destination through thick sheets of snow. Drive safely, and don’t make poor decisions just because you have an appointment or a deadline or you think you can make it. Be honest with yourself about your level of visibility. If you can barely see because of the weather conditions surrounding you, it’s safe to say your fellow drivers are having just as difficult a time. If your gut is seizing because you’re terrified you’re going to wreck, listen to your intuition. Pull over in a safe spot that is out of the way of other vehicles – a parking lot is best if you can swing it – and ride out the storm.
If you do end up in a car accident because of winter snow and ice, be smart about how you’re approaching the situation. Even if you’re pulled off to the side of the road, make sure you leave plenty of distance between you and any oncoming traffic. Drivers who are focused on the dangerous roads ahead are less likely to see you near your car.
Ideally, you will avoid any sort of slip, slide, or collision this winter. If you do end up in a winter car crash because of the fault of someone else, however, keep all the basic car crash advice in mind so that you can help your own personal injury case. Be sure to photograph the road conditions – this will be especially important if you are trying to establish fault in a third-party lawsuit for serious injuries.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps the victims of car crashes collect auto insurance benefits.