How to avoid pileups in the winter

What should you do to avoid a winter pileup?

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. - On New Year's Day 2018, traffic was moving along just fine on US-31 in Muskegon County.

But at any moment heavy lake effect snow can start, decreasing visibility.

"These can be harsh conditions," said Michael Poulin, Muskegon County Sheriff.

The heavy snow turns difficult driving conditions into dangerous driving conditions. It's what lead to a 40-vehicle pileup on US-31 on Friday, Dec. 29.

►Related: More than 40 cars involved in crash on US-31, closing southbound lanes

"This last crash there was a cruiser that was struck," Poulin said. "Thankfully nobody was hurt."  

In most cases small and large pileups are avoidable. If you are involved in a crash, most often it's safest to remain inside your vehicle.

"Keep your seatbelt on so you are not thrown from your vehicle if it is hit again," Poulin said.

With persistent winter weather, drivers need to put in extra effort to stay safe.

"Give yourself enough time," Poulin said.

Related: Whiteout driving conditions in Van Buren, Berrien counties cause serious problems

Extra time in the driveway clearing snow and ice from headlights, taillights and windows.

A vehicle that's completely clear of snow and ice is more likely to be visible to other drivers. 

Speeds also are a leading factor that results in a crash.

"What we are finding in those situations are people are overdriving their headlights," Poulin said. "Overdriving the visibility of what you can see."

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Footage from: Infinite Aerial Media

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