Michigan Has The Most Winter Traffic Deaths, New Study Finds

December 24, 2019

It’s no secret that driving in winter weather is dangerous. But it turns out that Michigan’s roads are actually more dangerous than others when it comes to winter driving.

According to a recent study by Moneygeek.com, a personal finance website, 49 traffic-related deaths occur in Michigan every year during the winter season.

“Michigan is known for its harsh winters, as are most of the other 10 deadliest states for winter driving,” reported Moneygeek.com’s analysis. “The only exception is Texas, where snow rarely falls, but when it does, drivers are not accustomed to it.”

What makes Michigan dangerous to drive in?

Approximately 6 million car accidents and over 5,000 fatal motorcycle accidents occur on U.S. roads every year. During the winter months, an average of 1,300 people are killed and 116,800 people are injured in motor vehicle accidents. According to the Federal Highway Administration, up to 70% of these accidents occur in the nation’s most snowy areas.

Although the Moneygeek.com analysis didn’t say why Michigan has so many winter traffic-related deaths, the reason is most likely the lake-effect snowfall. Four out of the five Great Lakes border Michigan, causing up to 207.7 inches of snow per year on average.

Eight states including Michigan have a shoreline on at least one of the Great Lakes. All of these states were on Moneygeek.com’s list of states with the highest winter traffic-related deaths.

These states include Michigan (49), Pennsylvania (30), New York (29), Ohio (26), Indiana (17), Wisconsin (17), Minnesota (17), and Illinois (15). The only states with high winter traffic-related deaths that weren’t located on a Great Lake were Colorado (17) and Texas (12).

Experience with snow doesn’t always make you safe

Given that the snowiest states have the deadliest roads during the winter season, it’s safe to say that even the most prepared drivers can get blind-sided by slick roads and winter weather conditions.

Snow squalls can be especially dangerous for motorists. A snow squall is a sudden burst of heavy snow that typically lasts less than an hour but can cause dangerous road conditions and low visibility. Low visibility and slick roads are a recipe for disaster wherever you live.

How can I reduce my risk getting into a car accident this winter?

With Michigan’s winter weather expected to get colder and wetter by February, it’s more important than ever to stay safe on winter roads. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can reduce your risk of getting into a motor vehicle accident this season:

  • Make sure your car is fit to drive. If you haven’t yet winterized your vehicle, now is the time to do it. Install snow tires to give your car a better grip on icy roads. Make sure that your vehicle has had an oil change. Just like how final drive gear oil ought to be changed at least once a year, so should your car’s oil.
  • Make sure you’re fit to drive. In 2017 alone, drowsy driving claimed 795 lives. Make sure that you’re giving yourself at least seven hours of sleep a night and that you don’t get behind the wheel if you feel like you can’t keep your eyes open. If you feel yourself getting drowsy, play upbeat music to keep yourself awake or pull over to the side of the road. Talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with one of the 472,560 PCPs in the U.S. if you’ve been having trouble sleeping or experiencing fatigue.
  • Don’t drive under the influence. Approximately 10,000 people die in drunk driving accidents every year and over 1.4 million people are arrested annually for drug possession. Drugs and alcohol delay your reaction time, impair muscle coordination, and increase risky behavior when you’re on the road. That being said, make sure that you have a plan to get home safe if you plan on going out.
  • Drive the speed limit. A Michigan State Police analysis found that 65% of winter car accidents in Michigan are linked to drivers going too fast for the weather conditions. Additionally, many of the road segments in Michigan that had the highest numbers of winter-related car accidents were along major freeways. Driving too fast or too slow in winter weather is considered reckless driving and it can put you at risk for a car accident. If you’re driving an RV, be sure to keep your vehicle below 60 mph.
  • Keep your headlights and taillights in good shape. It’s crucial that other drivers are able to see your vehicle when you’re on the road. Heavy snowfall can easily make your vehicle invisible if your headlights or taillights aren’t bright enough. Headlights ensure that you can be seen by every driver; three out of every 1,000 people have some level of hearing loss and depend on visuals when they’re on the road, so be sure that your lights are on and well-maintained.

We still have a long way to go before winter is over. But the good news is that, by following the tips above, you can do your best to stay safe while driving on slick, snowy roads this season.





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