Jan 18-11

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2011: January: Jan 18-11
Stuck    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Peg Hardt
Covered campers    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Bob Gilreath

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 07:40 am:

Oops... I'm sure that's what Peg Hardt was saying when this mishap with her vehicle happened. It looks like someone is walking off to get some help, while Peg is snapping pictures to forever preserve the memory of sliding off the edge, just far enough to be stuck. One of the cons of winter UP North.

Another down side if you're a camper here in snow country, like Bob Gilreath, is that even if you're brave enough to camp in a snowstorm, most campgrounds, if not all, are closed once the snow is falling. That and of course you have to shovel the camper out and get the snow off the roof, before you can even begin. Actually, it looks like Bob is getting ready to do just that, all that's left is to shovel the snow off the tops, hook up the truck and off they go. Hope he has a good heater!

By Uncle Chuck (Unclechuck) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 07:55 am:

Great photos, not the right vehicle to be on a two track in the U.P.! Hopefully they were not 16 miles back in the woods.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:02 am:

Great ad for Cadillac's!

By Kathyrn Laughlin (Kathyl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:11 am:

Once when I was cross-country skiing in the northern lower peninsula, a man at the trailhead asked me if I knew how cold it had gotten the night before. I replied it had been 5 degrees Farenheit. His response: "Oh. No wonder my waterbottle froze in my tent".

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:27 am:

I love today's photos. The top one reminds me of a question, wondering why there seem to have been so many terrible accidents, starting with a head-on collision, on US 41 the last couple of weekends this year. I don't remember that many horrible wrecks, back to 2003-2004 through 2008, when my oldest son was at Tech. A week ago Saturday, there was a head-on, that caused one of the cars to spin, and hit a third car sideways. Apparently, very surprisingly, there were no fatalities in that one, which was near Michigamme, but it did close US 41 for about an hour. My youngest son was caught behind that one, having to wait for 41 to re-open on his way back to Tech from Christmas Break. He could not understand how anyone survived it, judging by the conditions of all 3 cars that were involved.

The next day, there was another head-on collision on 41, but this one was closer to Baraga. This one was fatal to the woman driver who lost control and slammed into the other car. Two young men, both Tech students, were injured in that accident, and were sent to the hospital in Marquette. One of the guys is in serious condition. Will either one be able to attend Tech this semester? And, there were numerous other injury accidents those weekends, as well, for which we don't know more details.

These accidents have one thing in common: the road conditions were awful, glare ice covered by snow. Were all of the drivers driving too fast for the conditions? Perhaps, as the traffic seems to usually move very fast on US 41. But, what I'm really wondering about is: has the current state of the economy, which has caused cutbacks across the board, caused the DOT to not do a good enough job of keeping the roads cleared and either sanded or salted? I should note here, that both Tech and Northern went back to school that first weekend, so they should have kept the roads in decent condition, at least that one weekend. US 41 is a US highway, after all. It is not a local road.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:37 am:

Marianne, here where I am, winter accidents have been on the rise as well. Fortunately not many fatalities. When vehicles are towed in the collision shop my hubby runs, customers have been admitting to him that 4X4 and SUV's are not accident proof and that they have now learned they have had this false sense of security from driving them. Speed and distance are your best bets in snow/ice driving.

By Gary W. Long (Gary_in_co) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:50 am:

Marianne: There is only one person responsible for operating a vehicle AND for the consequences of failing to do so properly and that is the driver of that vehicle. It is not the weather or the road conditions or the DOT. If that driver is not willing to accept that full responsibility, they should not get behind the wheel and operate the vehicle. If conditions are so bad as to make safe driving impossible, then DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE. Itís that simple. Otherwise it may result in what we in the fire/rescue service call a ďLife Changing Event.Ē Iíve seen the results up close and it isnít pretty.

By Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 09:06 am:

Marianne...I think part of the problem is driver distraction. I am constantly reading about accidents on the rise being caused by drivers talking on cell phones and texting. Here in Troy, MI where I live, an ordinance is in effect that will ticket anyone seen driving while using a cell phone - no questions asked. The police will also issue a ticket for other distractions, such as eating or drinking, if they are not in control of the vehicle.

By FJL (Langoman) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 09:24 am:

Impatience is also one of the prime factors causing accidents.

By Brenda Leigh (Brownmoose) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 09:33 am:

Gary what a great response! People need to slow down and accept responsibility for driving too fast for conditions of the roadways. My husband and I do a lot of driving in the U.P. and we have had so many close calls. It is always the result of someone driving too fast for conditions. My question is why do people blame others, like DOT, for accidents that do not have to occur. The other deplorable situation is too many people on the highways when it is extremely bad. STAY HOME.. because if you are KILLED in a traffic accident you will NEVER reach home, work or something you thought you had to ATTEND. Death is a final thing and you do not get a second chance.
Estimated fatal traffic accidents are 39,000 per year.

By Kathyrn Laughlin (Kathyl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 10:25 am:

Although yes, people should not drive if they feel their vehicle is not doing well in the conditions, and yes, 4x4 & SUV drivers--and the rest of us--need to be mindful of the need to be able to stop, I have to agree with Marianne that the DOT does have a responsibility to keep roads passable. If nothing else, emergency responders need to get to people in trouble (eg, heart attack at home). People do have commitments that we don't want to ignore lightly.

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 10:29 am:

In agreement with you, Gary. Most drivers who are prone to accidents in winter should stay out of vehicles in the first place....there's no excuse for carelessness. We've lived and driven in winter in Wyoming and N. Dakota, where roads are not always 'treated', it just takes common sense and concentration. We've also driven through your town on many occasions in snow!

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 11:00 am:

Thank you for your responses. As for SUV's, that is not the factor in these horrible accidents. They were caused by drivers of "very small" cars, as in compact, or subcompact cars, who lost control of them, putting the small cars into the oncoming traffic, from the first reports that were made public.

I agree that people too often drive too fast for conditions, all over Michigan. Too fast for conditions or not paying attention may be a part of the causes of some of these extremely serious wrecks. BUT, I think it is only one piece of the puzzle. Northern and Tech students have been going back to school in winter driving conditions for the spring term since who knows when. But, this year seems to be very different as far as injury and fatal crashes. It is not the young-ish student drivers who are causing these horrendous accidents. It is middle aged people. I think the roads all over Michigan are in far worse condition this year than they have been in the past (not even recent past). I know that the roads in suburban Detroit, as well as in mid-Michigan (ie, Saginaw, Bay City, etc), per their road commission spokespeople, are in very bad condition, much worse than in the past. These areas are not able to plow nearly as often as in the past, and they only have about 1/3 of the road salt they used to have, because of the high cost. Heaven help when the spring freeze-thaw condition add potholes to the mix!

Thank you for your thoughts.

By allen philley (Allen) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 11:04 am:

Peoples judgement has changed over the years. Our warm SUV's give us a false sense of security. I drive the speed I feel is right for the conditions rather I am in the Jeep or the car and rather people following like it or not. Everyone liked how well the roads were taken care of in the past but do not want to vote yes on the taxes to avoid the cut backs. I have been in a situation like the first picture. On that occasion I had a 4wd Blazer. 4wd sometimes just gets you a little further in trouble. I would not hesitate to take my wifes 2002 Malibu on the trail above.

By Musicteacher (Musicteacher) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 11:11 am:

I bet the Caddy was a tourist! They all drive too fast and drive inappropriate vehicles.

By the way, the Calumet Theatre went from #15 to #17... Did you forget to vote??

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 11:49 am:

Just my 2 cents, but I do think people are in too much of a hurry now. I think they do not consider the possible ramifications of their speed, because they have the illusion of control.

Here in Commerce Twp (Motown area) my street was totally icy a while ago. I saw with horror the way the speeders: minivans, SUVs, and small cars were speeding to the main road in the early AM, probably on their way to work. My thought was that they have control, but are not considering what would happen if they have to brake.

It takes a flash of a second for a tragedy to happen. If a speeder slows down, the speeder loses a few seconds.

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 11:56 am:

music teacher: there is still confusion on the voting for the Calumet Theater. See yesterday's comments.

By ILMHitCC (Ilmhitcc) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 12:19 pm:

Arm-chair quarterbacking gives the speaker a false
sense of security. That's an even safer distance
than the back seat! ;)
Bummer pictures, but they are great shots. Thank you
for sharing.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 12:21 pm:

I think that the reason for the increase in serious winter accidents is because there are more 4WD vehicles on the road than ever before. People get a false sense of security and drive too fast. The fact is that most 2WD cars are actually better handling on an icy road than say a 4WD pickup with poor weight distribution, all the weight is in front. I've had both for years. Just my 2 cents worth.

By Pat & Glenda (Gormfrog) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 01:06 pm:

Always better to prepare and prevent__
than to repair and repent.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 01:56 pm:

False sense of security is the #1 reason customers relay to my husband for their cause of accidents as he writes their estimates, or totaling out their vehicle, or scheduling their appt. to be fixed. He's heard just about every excuse there is, legit or lame.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 02:35 pm:

For years, I drove a Dodge Neon when we lived in Red Jacket (I still have the car actually). I never had any problems getting around in a UP winter because I made sure of three things; drive only as fast as conditions will allow, stay entirely focused on the task at hand, and keep great tires on your vehicle. I only ended up on the side of the road once in 12 years thanks to a tourist (I'm sure) driving their large pickup towing a trailer way too fast on M-26 outside of Painesdale. Worst part of it is they never even stopped to see if I was ok.

Speaking of large pickups: I seem to be surrounded by them here in Texas. Every Bubba around here has a jacked-up redneck truck, and the vast majority have no clue how to drive them!! Anytime it rains they are first ones you see in the ditch or rolled over because once behind the wheel, they become invinceable and nothing can touch them in their mind. I can only imagine seeing them try to navigate a snow covered road if they can't even handle a little rain......

And Alex: I wish they would make that law mandatory across the entire US!! J

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 03:58 pm:

There have been so many comments here about SUV's and 4WD. But, I did not make myself clear above, apparently. The drivers who lost control of their vehicles and caused the head-on collisions were NOT driving SUV"s or 4WD vehicles. They were driving small cars, ie subcompacts. SUV's & 4WD are 100% innocent in these cases. Maybe not in all cases, but they were in these.

As an aside, 4WD only works if it is engaged; people like my husband are not very fast to engage 4WD. At least with my old Suburban, you aren't supposed to exceed 45 mph in 4WD High, which I never do. Yes, 4WD will not stop any faster than 2WD, but it sure does grab the road better! We couldn't make it out of our driveway, or at least not up the "mole hill" at the foot of our driveway, LOL, here in mid-Michigan without 4WD, when there is any ice or very much snow. It is totally worth it. AWD is a different story. It is better than 2WD, but not nearly as good as 4WD. My oldest son loves AWD in his 2010 Ford Edge. I'm partial to my 4WD, myself, and he is, too, when he's staying here in the winter. He doesn't have to deal with a "mole hill" from a dead stop when he is driving around suburban Detroit. (I call it a "mole hill" because it only really causes trouble with ice & snow. It's nothing like the hills in Houghton and Hancock, and the like!)

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 04:09 pm:

One thing about AWD, wether you get one, two, three, or all four flat tires, ALL four tires must be replaced at the sametime. Most customers don't realize that.

By Hollidays (Hollybranches) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 04:10 pm:

One of the fatal accidents that happened UP here was due to a woman having a diabetic attack.

I don't care what you are driving, you have to adapt to the weather and road conditions. Leave early, drive slow.

By Therese (Therese) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 06:08 pm:

Quite a spirited discussion today! I live near Harbor Springs about 30 miles south of the bridge. On Monday morning a friend drove me to hospital for a test. The roads were black ice covered with powder. They didn't appear to have been sanded. She braked gently for a school bus stopping for a child, and the car's traction control buzzed for a long time before the car finally stopped. She was driving about 25 and keeping her distance from the next vehicle, but even then it was dangerous. Black ice is deadly.

It does appear that the road commissions have been forced by the economy to reduce their maintenance -- less salt and sand, less plowing. And yes, we have to drive responsibly, but we can't shut down the roads every time it snows. People have to get to work, to stores, to the hospital, to church; and for that last preferable not feet first.

By Jeffrey P. Carlson (Dlineman) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 07:12 pm:

I was talking to a tow truck driver today and he mentioned he
had to haul a guy's Caddy SUV from his driveway in Naperville.
Someone or persons had jacked up his car in an attempt to steal
his rims and tires. He only got the fronts, got scared and split,
leaving the SUV jacked up. Naperville is west of Chgo and a very
nice area.
I drove my roomie's 64' Chevy into a snow bank on our way
back to Suomi from Christmas vacation. We were north of Green
Bay, the road curved and we didn't. Right into a snow bank. Can't
believe we got it out. Dennis drove the rest of the way, I sat
there chain smoking. He was in a real hurry to see his girlfriend
Karen. I wanted to see my girlfriend Susan also but getting killed
wasn't in the plans. Oh Dennis married Karen.

By wilson (Wilson) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 07:25 pm:

the whole world just needs to slow down...what's the hurry??? it's getting just madding down here in s.e. michigan, the rat race!!

By Donna (Donna) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:35 pm:

Wow...GREAT postings today!

And let's not forget...the snow was coming down so hard that day...I was driving from Baraga to Lanse and turned around at Erickson's just past the Bishop! The further I went, the darker it got, and I swear, I've not seen it snow like that in a very long time! It was just dangerous to be out on the roads that day.

So yes, SLOW DOWN. Drive safe! And like Gary said above..."There is only one person responsible for that vehicle"...So, if you don't think you should...then you shouldn't! And like Therese said..."don't go to church feet first!"

And, just a hint...anytime I'm starting to slip and slide, I put it in neutral and stop the drive train. Have been close to some real serious accidents with other folks driving and I'd scream out "Put it in neutral" and that's what tamed it back. It's worked many times for me and others.

(But...back in the day....when cars were cars...and made out of metal....hitting the ditch could be an adventure! Been there, done that.)

That's another part of the issue...cars aren't cars anymore...they are hunks of plastic and wire. Not alot of metal left....

By Donna (Donna) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:38 pm:

And...by hunks of plastic and wire...cars in the ditch need a tow truck anymore...remember when Good Samaritans could do that? Now, they won't even hook up a tow strap to try to get you out...for fear of ripping off the back of the car!

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 08:55 pm:

Donna, that neutral trick works for me too, even though I have anti-lock brakes. I always use it to stop on slippery roads; it really does work. It also helps to drop your car down into 1st or 2nd (I'm talking about an automatic here, not a stick) to take off. I see people futiley spinning their tires trying to get started at a stop sign, just making the surface slicker with their spinning tires. Drop it down a gear or two and it works wonders. You can then just slide it into drive on the fly before you get going too fast. I fell on my can today on some black ice in our parking lot. BAM! Right on my keister. The roads for driving in Lansing weren't as bad as the parking lots for walking today. Be careful out there.

By Donna (Donna) on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 05:57 am:

I have the anti lock brakes too...but still do the neutral thing whenever...and yeah...drop it down a notch or two...great advice Cindy.

And remember...snow is traction...no need to spin the wheels...just go an inch to the right, get on some snow...and it'll help with the traction. (at times) It's also insulation...I pack it tight around my home's outside walls, and it sure helps with the heat.

By Mike (Upboundeh) on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 06:54 am:

The accident thing is simple...Not paying attention to the road and speed... :)

By JH (Thumbgardener) on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 07:58 am:

All tourist drive too fast and drive inappropriate vehicles???

By John Robert (Mudlaker) on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 08:24 pm:

There is more than meets the eye here, the state isnt using just salt anymore, there are more accidents cause of what they use now, it's "something Cloride"
My friend's have told me they know this stuff happens to be dangerous in refreezing conditions, it's not just driver error.

I challenge all of you to look into this further cause it must stop!

You must stop blaming all the usual reasons, cause it's easy to do but there more to it, please try and find out more, we have to get the state to stop using this crap!,,TY

By Maria Sturos (Msturos) on Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 05:42 pm:

talking about road conditions, my daughter and I drove to northern Mn. Park Rapids and Grand Rapids areas New Years week end. Northern Mn had the worst snow storm in history. We have never seen such bad roads. My Mn daughter said they don't plow the roads until after the storm so that leaves the travelers navigating by themselves and hoping to not make any wrong turns or sudden braking. I have to commend the Houghton Co. road commision. They do a great job in keeping up the roads. I was so relieved to get back home to Upper Michigan where I knew our roads were taken care of.

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