Don’t crowd the plowsPublished 1:59pm Friday, January 13, 2012
Although it’s been a light winter so far, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is reminding residents living along state trunklines to be careful as they plow snow.
Two main concerns are when residents and businesses pile snow at the ends of driveways along the highway shoulder, and when snow is pushed across the road, leaving snow or slush on the road surface.
The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits “the obstruction of safety vision by removal or deposit of snow, ice or slush.”
This includes the end of driveways, where banked snow can reduce visibility for vehicles trying to enter the roadway.
“When the snowbanks get higher than your average car, it makes it very difficult for motorists to see other vehicles,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “Our crews work to keep the shoulders clear for motorist safety and we need residents and business owners to do the same.” Leaving a trail of snow on the pavement while plowing across the road also can cause problems. The snow can become packed and create ridges on the road, or, as temperatures change, the area can become icy.
“Careless plowing creates an added hazard to unsuspecting motorists and to road maintenance personnel,” Steudle said.
It also is important to remember that local ordinances may require residents and businesses to keep sidewalks clear of snow. This is important for pedestrians and those waiting for the bus.
“Winter can be a difficult time to get around for those on foot, so please take the extra effort to clear your sidewalks and help everyone stay mobile and safe,” Steudle said.
The Berrien County Road Commission is making some requests of residents to help make winter snow plowing season easier:
• Please be patient. During storms we begin by plowing the primary or main roads and work out to secondary and subdivision streets. If the snow persists, subdivision plowing may be delayed while we work on keeping the main and secondary roads open and safe.
• Keep mailboxes marked. They should be visible to snow plow drivers, securely fastened to posts, so that the force of flying snow from plows doesn’t dislodge them.
• Don’t park cars in roadway or in turnarounds. The road commission assumes no responsibility for accidents caused by such parked cars, but it might hold the driver of those vehicles responsible.
• Call for help. Drivers who are forced to abandon vehicles in roadways or right of ways should call a tow truck to have the vehicle removed.
• Give them some space. Drivers should remain several car lengths behind snowplow trucks. Road Commission trucks might back up at intersections. If drivers of other vehicles get too close behind the trucks, snowplow drivers might not be able to see them.
• Don’t plow snow from your driveway on or across the road. It’s against the law.
• Don’t pile snow high near intersections or driveways. It obstructs other drivers’ vision.
• Protect children. They shouldn’t be playing by the roads or ditches nor build tunnels in the snow banks by the road.
• Call 911 in an emergency.