As Old Man Winter settles in for the season, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM) urges motorists to drive safely around snow removal equipment.
“The Washtenaw County Road Commission needs your help to keep roads safe this winter,” Jim Harmon, director of operations said in a press release. “Our crews are the first responders to hazardous road conditions. They report in the middle of the night and on holidays to keep Michigan’s roads safe.
"Motorists must play their part by driving safely no matter how often roads are plowed or salted and by giving snowplow operators room to do their jobs.”
A steady decrease in road funding and an increase in costs have forced state and local agencies to alter their winter maintenance plans and change plowing priorities. One important fact has not changed, however, is that road crews must have ample room in order to safely clear the miles of roadway of snow and ice.
"Motorists must do their best to minimize distractions and focus on changes in road conditions," Harmon said. "Every year, despite the flashing lights on snowplow trucks, poor driver behavior near snowplows leads to collisions that can be deadly."
The Washtenaw County Road Commission offers the following tips for motorists:
- Snowplows have limited visibility and drivers cannot see directly behind their trucks.
- Snowplows often throw up snow clouds, reducing visibility on all sides of the truck.
- Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Motorists should not text or talk on cell phones while they are behind the wheel. In fact, texting while driving is illegal in Michigan.
- Motorists should never attempt to pass a moving snowplow on the right. With new patrol wing technology, 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.
- Always wear your safety belt and allow extra time to reach your destinations this winter.
“Road crews are ready to respond in winter weather conditions. If motorists do their part and use extreme caution when driving near snowplows, it will improve safety for everyone involved.” Harmon said.
Editor's note: This press release was submitted by the Washtenaw County Road Commission.