Get Caught Up: I-696 is dangerous, we know, but here are the most dangerous stretches

Data shows most dangerous stretches of I-696 are west of I-75

Vehicles burned on westbound I-696 near Woodward Avenue on Monday, June 12, 2017. (WDIV)

Interstate 696 in Metro Detroit has a reputation for some of the state of Michigan’s most intense and dangerous traffic.

Ask anyone who frequents I-696 and they’ll tell you it’s not for the faint of heart. So when we saw this “most dangerous stretches of I-696″ report from Michigan Auto Law, we weren’t surprised. No, the thought is perhaps the entire interstate, from I-94 to I-275, should be considered “dangerous.”

Get Caught Up” is ClickOnDetroit’s Saturday news review to help readers catch up on the biggest stories of the week.

However, the truth is the latest data shows the most dangerous stretches of I-696 are to the west of I-75 in Royal Oak and Farmington Hills. The pandemic did create reduced traffic levels on I-696 in 2020, and therefore reduced the amount of crashes -- silver lining.

“Continuing an already existing downward trend, overall and injury-related I-696 accidents decreased in 2020 due to reduced traffic levels. Unfortunately, fatalities increased in 2020, after a decrease in 2018,” said Steven Gursten, attorney and president of Michigan Auto Law. “Driving on interstates always poses a risk, but with so many drivers speeding, talking and texting on their phones, and driving while sleepy or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the danger is getting worse.”

According to Michigan Auto Law’s recently published report, based on data from the Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit, the top 10 most dangerous stretches of I-696 are:

  1. Eastbound I-696 between Bermuda Street/Mohawk Avenue and Campbell Road/Hilton Road, Royal Oak -- 286 total crashes, 120 injuries
  2. Westbound I-696 between Halsted Road and Drake Road, Farmington Hills -- 245 total crashes, 82 injuries
  3. Eastbound I-696 between Campbell Road/Hilton Road and eastbound I-696/I-75 ramp, Royal Oak -- 199 total crashes, 85 injuries
  4. Eastbound I-696 between South US-24/S M-10 ramp and M-10, Southfield -- 149 total crashes, 36 injuries
  5. Westbound I-696 between Drake Road and Farmington Road, Farmington Hills -- 146 total crashes, 45 injuries
  6. Eastbound I-696 between I-75 Chrysler/Stephenson ramp and I-696/N I-75 ramp, Royal Oak -- 125 total crashes, 53 injuries
  7. Eastbound I-696 and I 696/American ramp, Southfield -- 107 total crashes, 27 injuries
  8. Westbound I-696 between Orchard Lake/I-696 ramp and Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills -- 103 total crashes, 25 injuries
  9. Westbound I-696 between Orchard Lake/I-696 ramp and Farmington Road, Farmington Hills -- 95 total crashes, 15 injuries
  10. Eastbound I-696 between Drake Road and Farmington Road, Farmington Hills -- 94 total crashes, 25 injuries

Data source: Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit

Drive carefully!

Michigan’s 10 most dangerous roads

Six of the roads on the list are in Metro Detroit

A new list released this past spring identified the 10 most deadliest roads in Michigan. Six of the roads on the list are in Metro Detroit.

Using data from fatal crashes between 2017 and 2019, online financial adviser MoneyGeek made the list of the most dangerous five-mile stretches of road in the state.

These are the 10 deadliest roads:

  • Detroit: Gratiot Avenue Between E Grand Boulevard to 7 Mile Road
  • Flint: Dort Highway (M-54) Between E Pierson Road and E Morris Road
  • Grand Rapids: 28th St (M-11) Between Eastern Avenue SE & Byron Center Avenue
  • Detroit: I-75 Between I-96 and I-94 Interchange
  • Grand Rapids: US-131 Between Wealthy Street SE and 44th Street SW in Wyoming
  • Wayne County: Telegraph Road Grand River to Joy Road
  • Detroit: 7 Mile Road between Telegraph Road and John C Lodge Freeway
  • Ludington: US-10 between N Stiles Road and N Washington Ave
  • DTW: I-94 Between Vining Road and Telegraph Road
  • Detroit: East Davison Street Between Conant Street and I-96

“A fatal crash can happen anywhere,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw. “So it’s not just all of sudden I’ve got to be careful on I-94 near the airport. There may be a lot of crashes there because there’s a lot ore traffic.”

Traffic is one factor but there are other factors, including speed, distractions, drugs and alcohol, and weather.

“I’d rather have people not think of the road as deadly but driving behavior is,” Shaw said.

10 most dangerous Michigan winter roads

We all know how tough Michigan roads can get during the winter months. Just ask your knuckles.

Michigan Auto Law recently compiled a list of the most dangerous stretches of road in Michigan during the winter months, using five years of crash statistics, from 2015 to 2019.

According to the winter driving accident statistics, approximately 65% of the overall winter crashes involve drivers driving “too fast for conditions,” the Michigan State Police reported.

Most of the top 10 list is in West and Northern Michigan. None of them are in Metro Detroit.

These are the 10 riskiest Michigan winter drives:

  • US 31 Between 4 Mile Road and State Park Entrance, East Bay Twp, Grand Traverse County, 45 Total Crashes, 18 Injuries
  • Westbound I-94 Between County Road 681 and 62nd Street, Hartford Twp, Van Buren County, 45 Total Crashes, 8 Injuries
  • Northbound I-475 Between Atherton Road Ramp and S Grand Traverse Street, Flint, Genesee County, 40 Total Crashes, 12 Injuries
  • Eastbound I 94 Between County Road 653/Almena Dr. and 30th Street, Antwerp Twp, Van Buren County, 39 Total Crashes, 6 Injuries
  • Eastbound I 94 Between Red Arrow Hwy and Red Arrow Entrance Ramp, Lincoln Twp, Berrien County, 37 Total Crashes, 5 Injuries
  • US 41 Between Brickyard Road and Northwoods Road, Marquette Twp, Marquette County, 36 Total Crashes, 10 Injuries
  • Stadium Drive Between Rambling Road and Howard Street, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, 36 Total Crashes, 7 Injuries
  • Eastbound I 96 Between Cheney Avenue and Plainfield Avenue, Grand Rapids, Kent County, 35 Total Crashes, 8 Injuries
  • Razorback Drive Between Memorial Road and Ridge Road, Houghton, Houghton County, 35 Total Crashes, 4 Injuries
  • Eastbound I 94 Between Main Street Entrance Ramp and Amtrak Tracks, Mattawan, Van Buren County, 35 Total Crashes, 4

Injuries Note: These statistics refer to crashes that occurred from 2015 through 2019 where the Michigan winter road conditions were reported to be snow, slush and/or ice. Additionally, a “road segment” is defined as a stretch of any public road, varying in length but usually a mile or less.

Let us know where you have seen the worst winter roads in Michigan in the comment section below.

Tips for driving in the snow (from AAA)

  • Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
  • Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.