Some vehicles are still scarred from a season that saw soaring crash and auto repair numbers.
Winter car crashes were up an average 61 percent in Northwest Ottawa County compared to last season, according to data analysis by the Tribune.
It was one of the best winters ever at Fritz Auto Body in Grand Haven, with a 30 percent increase in business, co-owner Dave Fritz said.
But it wasn't just the snow that led to dents and dings — the cold left many car owners cracking up.
“What we encountered this year, with the temperature being so much colder and the new cars having urethane bumpers, people would hit the snow banks and the bumpers would crack,” Fritz said. “We definitely saw an increase in the amount of claims on bumpers because of the cold.”
While new bumpers are designed to flex, bitter cold temperatures make them brittle and prone to cracks.
Fritz praised local road crews for keeping the streets in good condition despite the barrage of blizzards, but he noted the high snow banks led to many crashes due to poor visibility when people were pulling out of parking lots or driveways.
“We had a lot of human error because the conditions we had were exceedingly more difficult than they have been in the past,” he said. “It wasn't just the inexperienced drivers. A lot of experienced drivers got into accidents, too.”
Deeper snow also caused more damage when people went off the road, according to Fritz.
Damages varied from $300 to $10,000.
Fritz noticed pricier damages occurred when people probably shouldn't have been on the roads.
“The whiteout days, those are the days that create the high-ticket accidents,” Fritz said. “When there's a warning to get off the road, there's a reason for that. Most of the cars that were out in a blizzard have substantially higher damage numbers.”
To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.