New drivers prepare for their first winter on the roads

Jessica Sarrach ‘24, News Editor

Michigan is well known for its striking four seasons throughout the year. Though the calendar marks all states as having four seasons, not all get to truly experience the harsh weather changes that accompany the changing of the seasons. Michigan gets to experience it all: the hot summers of July, the scenic colors of October’s autumn, the need for a parka accompanied by the mounds of fresh powder of January’s winter, and the flourishing flowers of April’s spring. These weather changes may be beautiful, but some can also provide danger for new drivers.

Snowy winters may leave us with a beautiful white wonderland, but they also bring black ice and snow-covered streets as well. When ice freezes, melts, and then re-freezes again, it can result in a dangerous film layer known as black ice. Black ice is most likely one of the scariest obstacles a driver can face. The most dangerous aspect of black ice is the fact it is not noticable to those who are not at eye level with it. The ice is transparent and blends in with black roads, leading cars to glide straight over it and causing potential car wrecks. These car accidents can occur from cars sliding into each other and other objects due to the lack of traction they get. Regular ice can also be very dangerous to drivers. The ice that coats the roads reduces the traction a car can get, making it a lot easier for said car to lose control and potentially crash.

Many students who received their licenses this summer and early this year have never driven on Michigan’s scary winter roads. One junior, Katie Sartori, said, “There is a strong possibility that I will crash my car as soon as it starts snowing.” For new drivers like Sartori, winter roads suggest a risk of serious injury. Many students accompany Sartori in her feelings of fear towards Michigan’s harsh roads.

 Though fearing something like the roads may seem silly to some, they provide a serious risk of danger making those who fear it completely rational. This year the Federal Highway Administration reported findings which said, “156,164 auto crashes occur annually due to icy roads.” 

Though ice offers serious risks to drivers, snow can be just as dangerous. One major problem that snow on the roads offers drivers is that it affects their sightline on the road. Winter snow storms can fall so thick that one may not be able to see even ten feet in front of them, leading to higher risks of crashes and illegal driving.

Though most drivers do not feel completely safe with the daunting winter roads, some feel ready to take on the challenge. Junior Mackenna Koch said, “I’ve been doing pretty well over all, but I always try to stay safe and make sure to always be careful. As someone who drives often I like to think I’ve adapted well.” As Koch demonstrates, the best way to face Michigan’s roads is by being careful, always.

 Though winter roads are scary, if you make sure to drive undistracted and carefully, you should most likely be safe. Just to stay safe, here are a few tips for you adventures on winter roads

  • If the roads are really bad, or there is a storm falling, avoid going out unless absolutely necessary.
  • Accelerate and decelerate your car slowly
  • Increase your distance between you and the car in front of you
  • Do not go up hills fast
  • Avoid stopping when going up a hill
  • Know how to use your brakes very well
  • Drive SLOWLY
  • If You reach a patch of black ice, avoid breaking and drive slow and at a steady pace

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