GVPD encourages students to slow down in winter weather

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye

Hannah Lentz

Once the first batch of snow hits Grand Valley State University, rumors of canceled classes and delayed deadlines fly around campus more often than the falling snow. However, according to the GVSU Police Department, whether or not students have to wake up for classes shouldn’t be the main concern.

Winter weather provides for icy road conditions. Though not all GVSU students commute to campus, severe road conditions are something that everyone should be mindful of, said GVPD Capt. Brandon DeHaan.

“Whether you’re operating a motor vehicle or walking in an area with a high traffic concentration, you should be mindful of your surroundings when the road conditions are less than ideal,” DeHaan said.

Areas to be mindful of include: slippery traffic stops, pedestrian walkways, black ice, tailgating and an overall awareness of the surrounding winter conditions.

“It is imperative that drivers are mindful of their own actions as well as observant of others on the road or walking nearby,” DeHaan said.

To assist with winter safety precautions, the Department of Public Safety at GVSU offers free jump-start services to students who get stranded when trying to go to their destinations.

Though the university encourages mindful travels, there are certain instances in which the university would need to close. When university officials decide whether to close for snow-related reasons, the following criteria are used: ability of the university’s road crews to keep campus roads and parking lots cleared; conditions of primary and secondary roads in the area as reported by the Michigan State Police as well as the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority; weather reports regarding the track of the storm and other changing conditions.

Four to five administrators from facilities services, public safety, administration and news and information services are involved in the decision to cancel classes.

“We have students that commute from a wide geographic area,” DeHaan said. “We try to arrive at a reasonable decision that considers the safety of students and their right to receive instruction.”

Because commuting students, faculty and staff members come from such a broad geographic area, it is extremely difficult to arrive at a decision that is appropriate to each vicinity. Weather conditions rarely are uniform throughout this large area, DeHaan said. No official announcement is made when the university is open.

GVPD also recommends completely clearing off car windshields instead of just partially removing the snow. When snow remains on the windshield, visibility decreases and the chances of an accident increase, DeHaan said.

GVSU community members should consider purchasing all-season tires or snow tires, putting an emergency kit in their car, purchasing wiper blades that are not prone to icing and, most importantly, slowing down when driving.

“We encourage students to be patient,” DeHaan said. “It is winter, motorists need to be driving slower and giving themselves more time to get to the places they need to go.”