Convenience vs. safety during winter road travel

With winter upon us, it is common for people to adjust their habits when it comes to parking their vehicles. In regard to winter parking restrictions, we are asked to abide by the laws so that snow removal crews can do their job and keep streets and roadways as clear as possible. Though it may be inconvenient for us at times, it is also necessary.

With the snow comes cold and most of us don’t like being cold or trudging through the snow, so we take the easiest path possible. This leads to pulling up as close as possible to the grocery store, convenience store, etc. often ignoring the signs restricting parking in that area. This could impede the sight distance of oncoming traffic, impede the vision of pedestrians, or cause other problems. Some people get creative and make their own parking spots in areas that suit them well.

A pet peeve of many is someone using posted “handicapped” spaces even though they have no permit or even a marginally valid reason to use the spot. The only real reason is that it’s easier and quicker. Some people may call this person “lazy.” Many people with a legitimate physical handicap have a hard enough time getting from a handicap space to their destination; therefore in the winter it’s even harder. If you’re cited for this you won’t get much sympathy from anyone.

Sometimes people with a handicap plate or placard (blue) may not have an obvious physical impairment, so before you read anyone the riot act make sure you have the whole story.

Certain medical conditions and vision impairments can be legitimate grounds for them having a disability plate. There are also temporary disability parking placards (red) available to those in need.

Recent surgeries, medical conditions which are expected to improve, and other circumstances may warrant a person receiving a temporary red placard to assist them while they recover.

Some places try to reserve a few spaces for senior citizens with good reason. Even though not legally handicapped, many seniors have a much harder time navigating around than younger people. Leave these spots open for the people that need them, it’s just common decency.

Some storefronts or other places may have designated fire lanes which are posted and prohibit the parking of personal vehicles. We see people unlawfully using these areas on a regular basis. Often times they are “just running in for two minutes,” at least this is the common excuse. Realistically, they are usually parked there for 10-15 minutes. These prohibited parking areas are for emergency response use and egress from the building.

There are times when vehicles may break down on the road. If any kind of traffic hazard, they should be moved immediately. If off the roadway and not a hazard, the police may give you some leeway or time to get it moved, but probably not three days.

If you break down, contact police in that jurisdiction for direction. Generally, it will have to be moved in a reasonable amount of time and before plows are out clearing the roads.

Here is an idea what certain violations will cost if you’re issued a parking related citation: Handicapped parking $225, winter parking $95, fire lane parking $95, abandoned vehicle on highway $95.

These do not include wrecker bills if law enforcement needs to tow your vehicle.

Use common sense and courtesy when parking your vehicle. You may avoid landing yourself a ticket and at the very least, you may make life a little easier for someone that may need it more than you.

Matt Djerf is the community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Calumet Post.