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Macomb County

December 24, 2013

Careful driving important for holidays, winter season

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

MACOMB COUNTY — With New Year’s Eve around the corner and the Christmas season winding down, local safety officers are reminding people to be careful on the roads.

Winter weather conditions, more people shopping and celebratory drinking can all contribute to accidents this time of year, though Roseville’s Deputy Police Chief Don Glandon said that they do not see a major spike in accidents during the holidays themselves.

“There are definitely increases around our shopping centers due to the heavier amount of traffic, and minor fender benders in the parking lots,” Glandon said. “It’s really not that much different than any other day, as far as types of incidents we see. Just a slight increase in shoplifting calls.”

Eastpointe Public Safety Director John McNeilance said that winter weather conditions always increase the likelihood of accidents from around December through February. The holidays do bring more drunken driving incidents, which is something for which he said police officers are always on the lookout.

“We don’t want people driving under the influence of alcohol,” McNeilance said. “So people attending parties should be aware of that by taking a taxi or a limo, or having a designated driver.”

Fewer people have been caught driving drunk over the past few years, Glandon said, and he expected that same trend to continue. He said the department has seen effective compliance from the populace on staying off the wheel after drinking.

“People realize the dangers of driving under the influence, and if they are going to have a few drinks, they generally stay home or go someplace they know they’re not going to drive,” Glandon said. “Thank goodness they realize the dangers and take the precaution of staying off the roads if they’ve had a few.”

McNeilance recommended that people drive defensively when the roads are icy — driving slower than normal, leaving earlier and allowing extra space behind other cars to stop. He added that, on ice and snow, cars tend to take longer to stop, so maintaining a distance from other cars is helpful for avoiding accidents.

McNeilance also recommended making sure all of the car windows have been cleared of snow and ice, as reduced visibility is a major additional safety hazard.

Glandon added that drivers should also keep a careful eye on the road and not be distracted by texts, phone calls or even other occupants of the vehicle.

“Remember, you’re operating a large piece of equipment, so keep in control as best you can,” he said. “Make sure if you get stranded that you have a cellphone to call for help, and consider carrying extra warm clothing in case you’re stranded in a snowbank for a while to keep warm.”

The Michigan State Police website advises that drivers also do all their braking before making a turn to avoid skidding. If the vehicle begins to skid, they recommend letting off the accelerator and brake, and use hand-over-hand steering to orient the front wheels in the proper direction.

It also suggests packing the car with other materials for an emergency kit, such as dry matches, a shovel, salt or kitty litter, road flares, jumper cables, and a tow strap. The state also maintains a website to indicate road conditions throughout the state, at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions.

McNeilance said the cities do their best to keep roads passable, by salting and plowing roads and clearing hazards and accidents as quickly as possible, though drivers themselves need to be careful not just this holiday, but all winter long.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kevin Bunch at kbunch@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.