Safe Driving Tips for Gravel Roads
For lots of Michigan residents, driving on gravel roads is part of their daily lives. 760 miles of the 2,700+ miles of road overseen by the Road Commission for Oakland County are unpaved roads and many of those roads are unlikely to be converted to paved roads anytime soon. According to the Washtenaw County Road Commission, they maintain 771 miles of gravel roads.
Even though Michigan is home to so many unpaved roads, not everyone spends a lot of time in areas with gravel roads and when they do end up encountering one, they often forget just how different they really are from paved roads. Vehicles can handle very differently on different types of road surfaces and it’s important for drivers to be prepared to navigate them safely. When driving on gravel roads, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
As you approach an unpaved road, slowing down helps you avoid a lot of hazards that come with driving on them. Since gravel roads have less traction than paved ones, driving too fast can easily lead to accidents. If you’re not sure how your car will handle on a gravel road, reducing your speed gives you a better chance to adjust to the surface change. Even if you’re used to driving on gravel roads, this is still very good advice to follow. Not all gravel roads are exactly the same. Some might have tightly packed gravel while others have looser gravel, which will have an impact on how your vehicle handles on the road.
Slowing down can also help protect other drivers on a gravel road. Dust and damage from loose rocks are very common problems with unpaved roads and slowing down can help reduce those kinds of problems. Since gravel roads tend to be common in rural areas, slowing down also gives you more time to react to things like animals or farm vehicles.
Increase Following Distance
If you’re driving behind another vehicle on a gravel road, it’s recommended to leave at least six seconds of following distance between you and that vehicle. On snowy or rainy days, it can be a good idea to increase your following distance even more. Because of the fact that gravel roads have less traction, it can take extra time to stop if you need to. A greater following distance also protects your car from being damaged by rocks kicked up by the other vehicle and helps you avoid having your visibility blocked by dust created as the other car drives.
Avoid Sudden Maneuvers
Sudden braking or swerving can be risky enough on a paved road, so when people try to do them on roads with less traction, the results can be disastrous. Slowing down and maintaining a good following distance will help you avoid having to make such sudden moves, but you should also use caution when doing even simple things like making turns. Taking a turn too quickly on an unpaved road can easily cause a driver to lose control over their vehicle.
Just because unpaved roads tend to have less traffic, that doesn’t excuse negligence. If you were injured in a car accident on a gravel road, it’s important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible so that you can learn more about your rights and options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have attorneys who are experienced in working with the victims of Michigan car accidents. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.