Drive Safe: GVPD Captain Jeff Stoll shares safe practices for the winter season


Courtesy / StateSide Staff

Sean Cauvet, News Editor

As winter and cold weather sets in, Grand Valley Police Department Captain Jeff Stoll is urging students to be safe.

“Living in Michigan provides any number of environmental challenges that are altered as the season changes to winter,” Stoll said. “Once we get to bad weather, there are a lot of different things that can impact your ability to drive safely, but there are also behaviors that you can do to mitigate that challenge as much as possible and make sure you and those around you are safe on the road.”

Among these behaviors, Stoll mentioned the importance of using common sense this time of year.

“We would prefer that you would not go out at all if the weather is bad, but if you know that the weather will be bad on a Friday night, you should make plans to go to one place and stay there for the night,” Stoll said.

He also said that students should be vigilant about taking the extra time to clean off their entire car, not just enough to be able to see. 

“Often we find that students that live in off-campus apartments have cars that are uncovered are doing the bare minimum to clean them off and then hitting the road,” Stoll said. “Taking a few extra minutes to clean everything off will make a huge difference in your safety and the safety of others.”

Stoll said that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has placed a sensor on the eastbound part of Lake Michigan Drive, just before the Grand River Bridge.

“From my understanding, (the sensor) helps them identify road temperature, precipitation and additional weather information that is very specific to the roadway more so than the air and the atmosphere. This (sensor) is a part of a project that MDOT is doing in several different locations to try and get a more comprehensive view of road safety status, as it relates to the driving.

MDOT can kind of see that information in real time and whether it’s coming or going and how they need to address those roadways as the weather is coming,” Stoll said.

When asked if he has looked into a similar sensor for Grand Valley’s campus, Stoll said it wouldn’t have a massive effect on roadside safety.

“Because our area is relatively compact here in Allendale, our campus doesn’t really sprawl out that much, you have a pretty good understanding of what the weather is in the area,” Stoll said.

To help out students that are concerned about the weather on GV’s campus, Stoll mentioned a new weather substation that was added on the north Central Utilities Building. 

“If you use the website Weather Underground, when you search “49401” for our zip code, our specific destination will come up as GVSU,” Stoll said. “I think that’s a fun, new thing because it (shows the) current atmospheric conditions on-campus. It’s a great reference for people to have, and for us to utilize as a tool.”

Lastly, Stoll added a reminder that students should always be conscious of their driving tendencies and how their vehicle operates in bad road conditions. 

“There is an appropriate law that allows us to cite people if an accident or a crash is a result of them driving too fast for conditions,” Stoll said. “You, the driver, are responsible to drive in a manner where you can control your vehicle safely. Even if you’re going 30 mph in a 45 mph zone, but you’re unable to take a curb safely and go up and hit a fence, you could still be found to be at fault and cited for that.”