(Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko, July 2, 2016)
We are all looking forward to a fun holiday weekend, I know I am. One concern we share with you is about traffic. Last weekend we heard from folks who got caught up in traffic northbound on I-75 north of University to Joslyn when MDOT took 4 lanes to 1 lane for repairs. It was complicated by the roadwork on M-24.
Here is what I suggest (and it is what I actually do when traveling): Plan your trip. Even local trips.
There are several ways you can do that:
-Listen to AM radio – WWJ broadcasts traffic updates “on the 8’s.” We know they are on our social media accounts so they are getting up to the minute reports about traffic status–closed roads, road re-opens, traffic jams.
-Use Google Maps – if you are a smart phone user, go to Google maps and using the menu in the upper left corner highlight “traffic.” Your map will show you roads highlighted with red, yellow and green to tell you where the traffic problems are, how long they are and how bad they are with red being totally stopped or barely moving. I use this to project traffic on my drive wherever I am in the US. I have found it to be very timely and accurate. Not sure how they do it but it works very well.
-Use WAZE – another free smart phone app. I learned this one from Lieutenants Gagnon and Miarka. It is a community of users who report traffic problems, how far ahead and to some extent what kind. It requires very little action on your part so that you won’t contribute to distracted driving and create the crash. The app tells you if there are police ahead and whether they are visible or not. (Will you drive better if you think we are up ahead?) This application will also talk to you so you can keep your eyes on the road.
-Use MiDrive – a free app for smart phones from the Michigan Department of Transportation. MiDrive can show you construction zones, traffic speeds (so you will know if it is really slow), crashes and other hazards. The really cool thing about it is that you can also access the traffic cameras AKA the “jam cams” – actually the same ones used by the traffic reporters. When you open the site it is a very large interactive map of the entire state. You can zoom into the map and you’ll see a little camera icon – click on that to open a current picture of that area of freeway. I use them frequently to get a look at what is going on.
-Join NIXLE our free social media site for all traffic news. If you don’t live in Auburn Hills check on the site for your community. Many report all kinds of police activity that you might want to know about including traffic. We regularly report traffic 24 hours daily.
I’m not advocating that you should be using your smart phone while driving. I DO suggest that you plan your route ahead of time. If you meet an unexpected problem check it when you are stopped or have a passenger check it so you can decide whether to change routes or wait it out. We never suggest going up the ramps the wrong way, driving in construction lanes (BIG, BIG fines for that), speeding along on the shoulder of the road or other crazy and dangerous behaviors.
Have a great weekend and be safe out there. Remember to wear your seat belt, keep your child in the back seat in a safety seat and don’t drink and drive.
This guest blog was originally published at Police Chief Doreen Olko’s blog and is published here with permission.