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Keys to Winter Driving

Driving in Michigan can be very challenging during the winter months. Ice, snow, wind and below-freezing temperatures often combine to make winter weather driving a difficult undertaking.

MDOT is committed to keeping Michigan roads as safe as possible during these winter months. Winter maintenance crews are maintaining roads and bridges as conditions require. MDOT urges motorists to do their part and follow these simple steps when driving in winter weather:

  • Always wear a safety belt when in a vehicle, and be sure children are properly buckled as well
  • Slow down when visibility is low and/or when road conditions are snowy or icy – in Ice and Snow Take it Slow!
  • Give snowplow drivers plenty of room to plow and salt/sand the roads – Snowplows Need Room to Groom!
  • Be extra cautious on bridges because they can be icy when roadways are dry
  • Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers, especially when merging or changing lanes
  • Don't pump anti-lock brakes
  • Remember, don't text and talk while driving

Other things to think about while driving in winter weather:

  • Treacherous Temps - Once temperatures get down into the teens, salt can be ineffective. This is because salt takes longer to work, and refreezes at a much faster rate when temperatures fall below 20 degrees. As a result, driving on road surfaces that have been salted can be more dangerous than driving on roads that have been plowed, but not salted. Here’s more info on how salt works in winter conditions . When extreme cold temperatures occur, plow drivers often use sand more than salt to provide traction.
  • Watch the Slush - Look at the slush being thrown by passing vehicles. If slush is thrown to the side of the wheels and splashing, the salt is still working. If the slush begins to stiffen and is thrown directly behind the wheels, the salt is losing effectiveness and icy conditions may begin to develop.