Tuesday, April 7, 2020

How to drive safely this winter

December 6, 2019
<p>An East Lansing home covered in snow, photographed on Nov. 13, 2019. </p>

An East Lansing home covered in snow, photographed on Nov. 13, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

As weather conditions worsen this winter, traveling to class, home and work becomes more difficult. Between Nov. 11 and 18, more than 50 traffic and non-traffic non-criminal accidents occurred throughout East Lansing, according to the East Lansing crime report.

These accidents can most likely be attributed to inclement weather conditions, East Lansing Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez said.

Quick tips for drivers:

  • Reduce speed. Drive within the ability to drive safely on the road conditions, not the speed limit.
  • Give yourself more time to stop at intersections.
  • Be cautious of ice, snow, rain and even wet leaves.

Collisions at intersections are common during inclement weather, especially if a driver uses excessive speed for the conditions of the road or does not give themselves enough time to stop for a red light, Gonzalez said.

Another danger zone for accidents is uncleared parking lots, Gonzalez said. The slippery conditions may cause one vehicle to slide into another when attempting to park for work, school or other activities.

The best way to avoid accidents is to slow down, Gonzalez said.

"It sounds like it's common sense but every year we really try to remind people," Gonzalez said. "Just be cautious of your speed when you're driving on icy conditions, snowy conditions or even wet roadways."

Not only are ice, snow and rain worth watching out for, wet leaves may also be dangerous. Many don't realize that wet leaves can have a similar effect to compacted snow, Gonzalez said.

"You have to drive within the conditions of the roadway," Gonzalez said. "So if the speed limit is 55 miles an hour, but it's covered by snow and ice, it doesn't mean you can drive 55 miles and hour. If you lose control because of the conditions on the roadway and it's found that your speed was a factor, you could be cited for causing the accident."

Quick tips for pedestrians, bikers and scooter riders:

  • Though you may have the right of way, still look both ways before entering the crosswalk.
  • Be cautious of slippery sidewalk conditions which could cause a fall into the intersection.
  • For those on two wheels, slow down and stay aware of icy, wet or snowy sidewalks to avoid injury.

Last year, scooters were completely removed from the City of East Lansing during the winter. Therefore, extra caution should be taken in attempting to drive them in dangerous weather conditions, Gonzalez said.

"We always tell people to kind of use that defensive driving attitude even when you're walking," Gonzalez said. "So, if you're going to cross the roadway, especially a busy roadway like Grand River, even if you have the right of way to cross, stop, look, make eye contact with the drivers around you before you actually step into the roadway."

It is also important for those traveling by foot, bike or scooter to pay attention to sidewalk conditions in order to avoid falling and getting an injury or sliding into traffic, Gonzalez said.

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