Sheriff’s department addressing snowplowing issues in the county

MANISTEE — Snow covered roads are difficult enough to navigate during the winter season without having to avoid obstacles that are created by people plowing snow from their driveway into the roadway.

The Manistee County Sheriff's office is reminding people throughout the county to be careful when they plow out driveways not to leave snow in the roadway. The department has been receiving complaints from various locations about snow being left in the roadways creating a hazard for drivers. Sheriff's office personnel said if the problem at a location persists after a warning tickets could be issued.

The Manistee County Sheriff’s office is reminding people throughout the county to be careful when they plow out driveways not to leave snow in the roadway. The department has been receiving complaints from various locations about snow being left in the roadways creating a hazard for drivers. Sheriff’s office personnel said if the problem at a location persists after a warning tickets could be issued.

Manistee County Sheriff’s office undersheriff Ken Falk reminds people that it is illegal to create a hazard in the roadway with the snow they plow from their driveway. He said it creates a dangerous situation if the amount of snow left in the roadway is sufficient to prevent  safe travel by vehicles.

“We have been getting calls countywide about this problem,” said Falk. “You got people out when it snows as they are removing snow at the end of their driveway and pushing it across the road. The problem is what gets left in the road.”

Falk cited 257.677a of the traffic code that addresses this subject.

* “Safety vision” means an unobstructed line of sight enabling a driver to travel upon, enter, or exit a roadway in a safe manner.

* A person shall not remove, or cause to be removed, snow, ice or slush onto or across the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle other than off-road vehicles.

* A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposit snow, ice, slush onto or across a roadway or shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle.

* A person shall not deposit or cause to deposited snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.

“If people were to hit that it could cause an accident,” said Falk. “You can’t pile up snow next to the roadway either.”

Falk said they are trying to educate the public on the matter without issuing tickets, but if the problem persists at the same locations they may have to issue some citations.

“That wet, sloppy snow we received the past few days could really throw someone, and if it freezes it is even hard on the road commission equipment if they have to move it — let alone a car driving by and hitting that ice chunk,” said Falk. “People need to figure out how to plow their snow differently, and if we get enough complaints we will follow up on it and start issuing tickets.”

Manistee County Road Commission manager Mark Sohlden said leaving large amounts of snow in the roadway can cause problems for the drivers of his snowplows.

“The practice of pushing snow onto or across the plowed portion of the roadway or shoulders is both dangerous and illegal (Act No. 82, Public Acts of 1978) and the persons that are performing this action could be held liable for property damages or personal injury resulting from an accident that is caused by this illegal action,” said Sohlden. “We are asking for cooperation from the residents and other snow plow drivers when plowing private properties adjacent to the state highways and county roads to prevent accidents and property damage.”

Sohlden said when drivers see a persistent problem area they will post a standard sign by the driveway of that individual stating they are in violation of depositing snow on the roadway.

“It they clean up the roadway then it isn’t a problem,” he said. “A lot of people are good about cleaning up and not leaving anything on the roadway, but I am sure there are some areas where maintenance supervisors need to get a hold of the people if there is an issue.”

He said they also will be educating the public at the township level in the upcoming weeks.

“We are going to all the townships starting in January and we give all the board members a copy of that public act so they can post it for their residents,” said Sohlden.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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