Service trooper provides winter weather tips

Published 8:56 am Thursday, February 5, 2015

As roads are being plowed across Michigan after roughly a foot of snow fell across the southern part of the state, I am “digging out” some traffic and winter safety tips.

The Michigan State Police is monitoring the storm. No local emergency operations centers have been activated. MSP advises people to stay indoors and not travel unless it is “absolutely necessary.”

“Snowplow drivers from state and local governments are working tirelessly to clear the roads and make them safe for travelers,” said Ron Leix, a spokesman for Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “Last night’s (Sunday, February 1) snow came down at such a high rate, the plows had a hard time keeping up.” But if you do need to head out, MSP asks motorists to take special precautions. To increase visibility for other drivers, make sure snow is removed from your vehicle, including headlights and taillights.

We also suggest having emergency supplies in your vehicle, including warm clothes, batteries, a radio, flashlight, windshield scraper, jumper cables, shovel, blankets, first aid kit, non-perishable food and bottled water. Also, keep a full tank of gas.

While driving, be mindful of snowplows. Plows from the Michigan Department of Transportation travel 25 miles per hour when laying salt and up to 45 miles per hour when clearing snow. While you may be able to drive faster than that, passing a plow on the right is illegal. Michigan’s “keep right, pass on the left” law prohibits passing slow moving vehicles in the right lane on expressways, state highways and four-lane roads. And it can be dangerous.

When you are out in the snow, be sure to bundle up and not overexert yourself. Watch for signs of frostbite, such as loss of feeling in toes and fingers. MSP often hears about people having health issues during snowstorms, including heart attacks. Pace yourself. When shoveling, make sure to check any local ordinances for snow shoveling. The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits shoveling or plowing “snow, ice, or slush” onto a roadway or piling it so high that motorists can’t see around it. If you are shoveling your driveway, here’s a tip to avoid the “second shovel” that can be caused when a snowplow drives by and refills your driveway: Shovel in the direction of traffic. In other words, as you look at your driveway from the road, clear out the right corner as much as possible. Place more snow on the left side of the driveway.

To find out more information about the road conditions in your community, MSP suggests calling ahead if you have travel plans. Michigan’s winter travel advisory hotline is 800-381-8477.

This time of year is a great time to ensure your “go-kits” are supplied and available. If you remember my “Do 1 Thing” articles, November is the month to ensure you have kits for the car, home, individual, pets, and work.

I am doing the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) in schools and talking about this type of weather to get the students thinking about what they need.

They have been issued their “go-kits” with an emergency blanket, whistle, flashlight, and batteries. Their mission is to follow the suggested checklist and fill the bag in the event they need to evacuate or travel. The 5th grade students get it. They may be coming home to you and talking of plans and asking to practice the plans.

If you don’t have a 5th grade student, practice anyway.


Any questions or comments please email me at or call 269-683-4411.