close print view
Are You Ready for Winter Driving?Contact: Bill Shreck, Director of Communications, 517-335-3084Agency: Transportation
October 28, 2009 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is reminding motorists that winter driving is on its way.
"Some motorists may have forgotten how to drive on slick roads when visibility is limited," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Our snowplow drivers are preparing for winter conditions and motorists should be getting ready also. The key is planning ahead."
MDOT encourages motorists to monitor the weather, winterize their vehicles, and check traffic flow and lane closures online at www.michigan.gov/drive before getting behind the wheel.
MDOT will continue to designate Priority #1 (orange route) and Priority #2 (blue) routes for winter maintenance on M, US and Interstate routes.
"Both Priority #1 and Priority #2 routes will be maintained continuously during and after a winter storm until our defined level of service can be achieved and roads are passable," Steudle said.
Motorists are advised to review the following winter safety driving points before the first snow flies.
- Normal winter conditions are identified as temperatures above 20 degrees, light to moderate winds and snowfall amounts from one to five inches in a 24-hour period.
- During normal conditions, MDOT and its contract agencies can generally keep the trunkline systems free of ice and snow. However, the pavement may still be wet.
- When temperatures fall to 10 to 20 degrees, the action of the salt (which lowers the freezing temperature of water) takes longer to work and refreezes at a much faster rate.
- Salt is very ineffective at temperatures below 10 degrees. The melting rate and dilution of the salt slows way down, and the refreezing process accelerates even more.
- This causes potential for a more dangerous condition than what previously existed.
- To continue to apply salt at these very low temperatures will actually cause more problems than it solves.
- In addition, when wind speeds exceed 15 to 25 mph, the snow that would normally blow across a dry road will adhere to the wet pavement. This will also speed the dilution of the salt, creating a packed-ice type condition with traffic driving over it.
- In winter, motorists are reminded to follow Michigan's basic speed law, which requires them to drive at a "careful and prudent speed" in all conditions and which allows them to stop within the clear distance ahead. It may mean driving lower than the posted speed limit.
- MDOT reminds motorists to follow these winter safety driving tips:
- Be cautious of bridges that may be icy when the approaching pavement is clear and dry.
- Always wear your safety belt and be sure children are properly buckled up.
- Don't text or talk on your cell phone while you are driving.
- Slow down when visibility is low or when road conditions are snowy or icy.
- Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers.
- Don't pump anti-lock brakes.
- Snowplow drivers need all the help they can get when it comes to maneuvering large trucks through traffic and along the roadways for the benefit of all of us. Please do your part and "Don't Crowd the Plow."
- Make sure your windshield is clear of ice and snow before you start out. "Peephole driving" is unsafe for you and other drivers on the road.
- MDOT has established procedures to deal with all types of winter conditions and provides the experience and dedication of highly trained staff for the best and most efficient service possible.
While salt costs are expected to be 22 percent higher this winter, MDOT expects to have an adequate supply for winter maintenance. Despite rising costs in 2008, MDOT crews used 170,000 fewer tons of salt than the year before, a decrease of about 20 percent, while still keeping Michigan trunklines clear for travel. MDOT records substantiate that enforcing winter guidelines, combined with increased attention on operator training and the effective use and application of salt and other de-icing and anti-icing materials, saved the state of Michigan $8 million last winter.
"MDOT is ready to do everything we can to make winter travel as safe as possible," said Steudle. "But drivers must also do their part to be prepared for the challenges of winter driving."
MDOT also will post information on the department's social media sites at www.twitter.com/MichiganDOT and the "Michigan Department of Transportation" page on Facebook for motorists to check before they head out on the road.
MDOT: Working to improve our state roads and bridges.
Copyright © 2001-2013 State of Michigan