GVPD urges safety as winter months grow snowier


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Adam Trombley

Winter is already here, but for much of Michigan, it seems like there has not been as much winter weather as we might expect. Although there has not been a huge amount of snowfall, the Grand Valley Police Department is urging the Grand Valley State University community to take precautions for when there is snow and ice on the roads.

“Plan ahead, check the weather, be understanding that conditions can change rather quickly, and even if you do plan ahead, there may be a time where you think you’re going to make it on time, and you might end up being a little bit late,” said GVPD Capt. Jeffrey Stoll. “But it’s always going to be more beneficial to be patient and be safe than it is to rush.”

One of the main preventative actions Stoll stresses is clearing off your car before you leave. He has noticed that students sometimes will clear just a small section of their windshield sometimes, but this can be dangerous for both them and other drivers. Not cleaning your car off can also get you in trouble with the law. 

“It is a potential crime — a civil infraction — so you can get a ticket if you don’t do a good job at clearing off your headlights, taillights or you windshield,” Stoll said. “That is an actual requirement in the Motor Vehicle Code.”

Although they do not often hand out tickets for this offense, GVPD stresses an educative approach when dealing with this type of incident. The department will also post tips on how to stay safe during the winter on their social media accounts. Checking the weather beforehand is something Stoll stresses. In Allendale, the area can get more lake effect snow than Grand Rapids does, and the short drive between the two places can be substantially different weather-wise because of it. 

“Our police department and Ottawa County’s central dispatch serve as the bridge to tow companies to get people unstuck or fixes related to accidents,” Stoll said. “That’s one of our roles and responsibilities when we respond to an accident scene is to make sure people’s cars are extricated appropriately.”

Stoll said it is not uncommon that they are asked to assist Ottawa County. Helping with accidents on campus and assisting on roads like Lake Michigan Drive and 48th Avenue are also some of the things that the department may help out with when it comes to helping the community in the winter months. With fewer vehicles and traffic on campus due to remote learning, the department is receiving fewer calls about weather-related car incidents. 

Stoll gives credit to the university’s facility staff and the tremendous job they do at clearing out snow in the parking lots and on sidewalks around campus. If anyone has complaints about slippery spots, Stoll said you can contact them and they will go and salt the area. 

Although having snowfall on GVSU’s campus is inevitable during the winter months, GVPD and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office are prepared to help out whenever they are needed. Keeping people safe and educating them along the way is their goal between these next few cold months.