4 Fast Facts on Winter Road Crashes
We all know that Michigan winters are brutal. But according to one study, they’re more than just brutal. For drivers, the winter is actually deadly.
Michigan had the highest rate of weather-related driving deaths from 2013 to 2017, making it the deadliest state in the country for winter drivers.
And while this might not sound surprising to veteran Michiganders, but it is surprising considering that Michigan isn’t the worst state for winter road crashes as a whole. Even accounting for below-freezing days, Michigan is only the second-worst state for winter road accidents.
Before you and your family hit the road for the holidays, here are a few quick facts that you need to know to stay safe.
January is the Worst Month
While November and December get all the attention (and March gets all the grief for snow that won’t go away) the worst winter month is actually dead in the middle: January.
In the past decade, January accounted for 43% of all Michigan crashes on snowy, icy, or slushy roads. And while you might think that New Year’s would be the biggest culprit, with so many people driving home after a long night, the worst day of the whole month for crashes is actually January 7, followed by January 29.
After January, February was the second-worst month, followed by December. March and November tied for the same number of winter crashes.
I-75 Had the Most Winter Accidents in the Past Decade
However, the time of year isn’t the only important factor in winter crashes. It’s also where you drive. Unsurprisingly, a major highway is the biggest culprit. In raw numbers, I-75 had the most accidents over the past decade, followed by I-94 and I-96.
If you’re familiar with I-75, this should come as no surprise. It’s Michigan’s longest highway, stretching all the way from the Ohio border to the Canadian border in Sault St. Marie. But the most lethal stretch of road is close to home: the most fatal accidents occurred on a 10-mile section going from downtown Detroit to 9 Mile Road in Oakland County.
If you live in the metro Detroit area, as we do, you can guess exactly why that is. Of all the highways in Michigan, this is the most heavily traveled segment of highway, accounting for suburban commuters in and around the Detroit area.
That said, I-75 doesn’t steal the whole show. I-94 actually takes the cake for the road with the highest likelihood of winter weather-related crashes, particularly the section passing through Van Buren County (on Michigan’s west side, near Kalamazoo). More than half of the accidents in that area were credited to winter weather conditions, compared to just 11% of accidents on the stretch of I-75 through Detroit.
Be Careful in the Snow Belt and Northern Michigan
While Detroit gets a lot of attention (and traffic) the worst weather conditions are actually in other parts of the state.
Northern Michigan (i.e. the UP and the northern part of the Lower Peninsula) is a major player. So too is the snow belt, particularly the Lake Michigan snow belt. Either of these areas consider 10 feet of snow a normal winter occurrence.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the counties with the highest percentage of winter weather-related accidents are all located in the Upper Peninsula: Houghton, Alger, Keweenaw, Chippewa, Marquette and Gogebic.
When Winter Road Crashes Strike, You Need a Dedicated Attorney
If you or a loved one get caught in winter road crashes, you need an auto accident attorney who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, we build all of our cases on the same premise: integrity and respect. We treat all of our clients with the care we would give to our own families, and we won’t stop until we get the best results for your case. If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation.