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How to Stay Safe as Winter Storm Hercules Continues to Batter Michigan

The Michigan Department of Transportation will work continuously to keep roads clear, but stay home if you don’t need to travel.

The Michigan Department of Transportation asks for the public's patience as crews clean up from Winter Storm Hercules. "A storm of this magnitude will certainly put our MDOT workers ... to a test," the MDOT director said. (Patch file photo)
The Michigan Department of Transportation asks for the public's patience as crews clean up from Winter Storm Hercules. "A storm of this magnitude will certainly put our MDOT workers ... to a test," the MDOT director said. (Patch file photo)
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) said in a news release it and other road agencies will be out in full-force maintaining highways during this week's extreme winter weather, working to keep travel safe and limiting delays as much as possible.

"A storm of this intensity and magnitude will certainly put our MDOT workers and contract agencies to the test, but we won't let up until the roads are clear again," said Michigan Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "We'll need the public’s cooperation and understanding over the next few days to keep our highways safe and avoiding travel unless absolutely necessary where conditions are particularly bad."

All state highways are maintained continuously during a storm, and all of the roughly 300 MDOT snowplows and 900 county and municipal winter maintenance vehicles that are available will be on the road. While MDOT works to keep roadways clear and allow traffic to move at posted speeds, motorists must drive with caution at a speed appropriate for road and weather conditions.

"As with any winter storm, but particularly during severe weather, motorists should leave snowplows extra room so operators can do their jobs efficiently and safely," Steudle said. "More than ever, it's vital for drivers to keep distractions to a minimum, wear their seat belts, and give plows room to groom."

MDOT's annual maintenance budget starts in October, with winter maintenance being the top priority. Longer and more intense winters result in less funding available for non-winter maintenance expenditures, such as pothole patching and equipment purchases.

"This storm will certainly tax maintenance workers and equipment," Steudle said. "Despite those challenges we will clear the roads as quickly as possible."

MDOT offers the following reminders for motorists:

  • Up-to-date road closings, traffic incidents, traffic speeds, and traffic camera views can be found at www.michigan.gov/drive (from your computer, mobile device, or smartphone).
  • Click on the Red Envelope to sign up for traffic alerts and road closing notices from MDOT at www.michigan.gov/mdot.
  • Safe driving tips, winter level of service maps for state routes, helpful videos and charts are posted on the Roads & Travel section of the MDOT website: www.michigan.gov/mdot.
  • Follow MDOT on Twitter for weather and travel updates at www.twitter.com/MichiganDOT or on one of MDOT’s regional Twitter pages: @MDOT_MetroDet, @MDOT_Southwest, @MDOT_West, @MDOT_Bay, @MDOT_A2, @MDOT_Lansing, @MDOT_Traverse, or @MDOT_UP.
  • The Michigan State Police operates a Winter Travel Advisory page with state highway and freeway road conditions at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions. Condition reports are also available at the MSP Winter Travel Advisory Hotline at 1-800-381-8477.
  • Extreme cold also limits the tools road agencies can use, rendering salt ineffective at temperatures below 20 degrees. To continue to apply salt at very low temperatures will accelerate the refreezing process and worsen road conditions.
  • Motorists should never attempt to pass a moving snowplow on the right. With new wing plows and tow plows, the blade can clear the shoulder and the lane of travel simultaneously. Motorists attempting an illegal pass through a snow cloud on the right and/or shoulder of the road most likely won't see the plow blade and run the risk of a serious crash.
  • Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Motorists should not text or talk on cell phones while they are behind the wheel, especially in winter conditions. In fact, texting while driving is illegal in Michigan.

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