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MDOT urges safe driving as winter nears

GAYLORD, Mich. -- As northern lower Michigan receives the first significant snowfall of the season, and with the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to remind drivers to slow down and be cautious on wintry roadways.

While road agencies work to keep our highways safe in the winter, drivers must take responsibility for getting to their destinations safely.

"MDOT and our local agency partners have been busy getting our snowplows ready, stockpiling road salt, and ensuring our maintenance crews are well-trained and have advanced road weather technology to make the best decisions on winter road maintenance," said MDOT North Region Traffic, Safety and Operations Engineer Krista Phillips. "We're ready to do our part to keep roads safe this winter, but drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles regardless of conditions."

After months of driving on mostly dry surfaces and with better visibility, it's time to remind everyone that driving in wintry conditions can be hazardous. The statistics are stark: of the more than 101,000 total crashes reported in northern lower Michigan from 2016 to 2020, 22.7 percent (22,981) were winter weather-related, according to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center. During this period, 44 people were killed and 455 seriously injured in crashes on icy, snowy, or slushy roads.

"If you don't have to be out on the road during a weather event, please stay home and wait it out to give crews time to clear the roads," Phillips said. "If you must be out on snowy roads, remember to take it slow on ice and snow, leave extra distance between vehicles, and don't crowd the plows."

MDOT and the MSP have collected a wealth of resources to help drivers prepare to meet winter safely:

  • MSP's Office of Highway Safety Planning has launched a website ( packed with tips and useful resources. Drivers can find timely advice there on planning a safe route, how to control their vehicle, what to do in an emergency, passenger safety, tire tips, and more.
  • MDOT's Mi Drive website is a useful online tool to help you get to your destination safely. By going to, motorists get access to hundreds of cameras showing state highway conditions in real time, as well as road backups or closures due to weather, crashes or other incidents.
  • The agencies have partnered to produce a video with information on how roads are maintained each winter and the actions motorists should take now to be prepared for inclement driving conditions.

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