By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - Area police agencies will be patrolling the roadways and looking for those who are disobeying traffic laws during the four-day holiday weekend.
In addition, a new traffic safety campaign, sponsored by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), encourages drivers to slow down in snow or icy driving conditions to reduce weather-related crashes, injuries and traffic deaths.
Sgt. David Stuck of the Michigan State Police Iron Mountain Post said the state police will have extra patrols on the roadways, especially today, traditionally the busiest night for area taverns.
"Extra patrols will be focusing on alcohol enforcement and aggressive driving," he said.
Kingsford Public Safety Officer Kenneth Wood said although there will not be extra patrols on the roads, public safety officers will be on the lookout for anyone drinking and driving.
"We hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday weekend," he said. "Do not drink and drive or you will face the consequences."
Iron Mountain Police, Norway Police and the Dickinson County Sheriff's Department will also have regular patrols for the holiday weekend.
The OHSP's new traffic safety effort is supported with federal traffic safety funds. It is being focused in the U.P. because the area experiences the longest and harshest winter driving conditions in the state.
The campaign includes public service announcements.
"It doesn't matter how long you've been driving or what vehicle you drive, slowing down is key to avoiding a weather-related crash," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director.
The majority of winter driving crashes can be attributed to drivers going too fast for the roadway conditions.
When this happens, drivers can lose control and begin to leave the roadway.
A five-year review of U.P. crash statistics indicated:
- Men and women are equally involved in winter weather crashes.
- Most crashes involve drivers 41 and older.
- Weather-related crashes are focused in Houghton, Marquette and Alger counties.
From Nov. 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012, the Iron Mountain State Police Post reported 49
traffic crashes. One of those was a fatality, one consisted of an incapacitating injury, three were non-incapacitating injuries, six were possible injury and 38 of them were no injury.
State Police officials said these numbers indicate the number of non-deer crashes during this time period. They do not keep a record of how many of those crashes are weather-related.
But November through April is the time traffic crashes could be snow or ice related.
The campaign's announcements were shot during a major U.P. snowstorm earlier this year. The ads can be viewed at youtube.com/ohsp.
In addition to the announcements, weather-related informational flyers will be distributed throughout the U.P.
Flyer myths and facts include:
Myth: The lower the temperature, the more slippery the road.
Fact: Roads are most slippery when the thermometer hovers around freezing. Black ice is deadly.
Myth: When it starts snowing, I give myself an extra car length to stop.
Fact: It can take up to 10 times longer to stop in snowy or icy weather. Look ahead and begin braking well in advance of an intersection.
Myth: Using my cruise control during the winter is no big deal.
Fact: A sudden loss of traction could cause wheels to slip, making the car skid. In winter months, keep cruise control off.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.