Drivers preparing for wintery conditions

Samantha Butcher

As the threat of the semester’s first snow looms, the Michigan Department of Transportation is encouraging Michiganders to be prepared.

“Some motorists may have forgotten how to drive on slick roads when visibility is limited,” said Kirk T. Steudle, Michigan transportation director, in a press release. “Our snowplow drivers are preparing for winter conditions and motorists should be getting ready also. The key is planning ahead.”

According to MDOT, the most dangerous conditions for drivers occur when temperatures dip below 20 degrees. From 10 to 20 degrees, the salt MDOT uses to keep roads clear of ice takes longer to dissolve ice and refreezes more quickly than in during “normal” winter temperatures, and is very ineffective below 10 degrees.

Winds exceeding 15 mph can also create hazards because snow sticks to wet pavement instead of blowing over.

Regardless of speed limit, Michigan law requires drivers to maintain a “careful and prudent speed” while on the road, a rule that becomes especially important with dangerous winter conditions. According to the law, drivers must be able to stop within the clear distance they can see ahead, which may require speeds below the limit.

Other driving tips from MDOT include avoiding cell phone use while driving on icy or snowy roads, being careful of bridges, wearing a seat belt, accelerating and braking slowly and not pumping anti-lock brakes.

Proper car maintenance and preparation is also an important part of being prepared for winter driving. Simple checks such as checking the treads on tires, keeping the fuel level above half a tank and loading your vehicle with a winter survival kit can make a big difference.

Steudle said in a press release that MDOT does everything it can to make winter driving as safe as possible, but drivers must also do their part.

To view more information on being prepared for winter weather or to check traffic flow and lane closures, visit