Accident increases often attributed to wrong tires

HOUGHTON — The number of vehicle crashes increases substantially during the winter, and most law enforcement officers who investigate them usually find the driver at fault.

Keweenaw County Deputy Matt Eberly said he finds two principle reasons for crashes: not driving for conditions, and improper tires. The use of all-season radial tires on icy or snowy roads is a major cause of vehicular crashes, combined with overconfidence in driving skills.

“You can’t substitute all-season tires for snow tires,” Eberly said.

Too many drivers lose control of their vehicles and wind up in a snowbank, because they are not driving for conditions. In other words, they are driving too fast on dangerous road surfaces with tires not equipped to handle winter conditions.

“With extended periods of cold,” Eberly said, “the roads become glaciers, basically. Even on warm and sunny days, they are still icy and slippery.”

Michigan State Police Sgt. James Revoyr agreed, saying people need to adjust their driving to the conditions.

“People really need to slow down,” Revoyr said. “That’s probably 85 percent of the factor. I mean the roads are icy, or snow-covered, and people need to drive according to conditions.”

Revoyr said the excessively snowy weather throughout December contributed to poor road conditions. He added tires are also a significant factor in driving crashes.

“Having dedicated winter tires makes a difference,” Revoyr said.

The advice both law officers offer to motorists to make sure tires are appropriate for the season, and slow down. While all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles are designed to increase traction during execration, they are not intended to improve speeding on icy and snow.