Northern Michigan Holiday Travelers Endure Hazardous Snow Conditions On Freeways

A combination of snowy conditions, last-minute shoppers and truck drivers trying to wrap up their hauls before the holiday weekend are forming on Northern Michigan’s roadways.

As more snow begins to fall, the freeways are certainly getting busier.

“It’s scary,” says Brian Shariak, who was driving his semi carrying cargo through Wexford County on Thursday night. “I mean, there’s times that I hit the rumble strip because I don’t even know where the road is.”

Last night, a continuous peppering of snow swept across freeways like US-131 in the dark with holiday traffic.

Truck driver Brian Shariak braves the conditions to make a living.

“You are driving through a tunnel so when you are driving actually into the snow, it looks like you are driving through a funnel and you cannot see the lines,” Shariak says. “The only thing you can feel is the rumble strip.”

He hauled a load of dried cranberries from Frankfort to Detroit through the elements.

Something he sees — lots of drivers in the passing lane.

“Everybody is the best driver in the winter because they lived up north their whole life, lived in Michigan their whole life so they go I got this all under control and I see people passing me all the time and I go two or three miles up the road, next thing I know, I see them in the ditch,” Shariak says.

“With the increase of traffic and you combine that with the decrease in weather, it could be hazardous,” says Sgt. Jeff Gorno, Michigan State Police Gaylord Post.

In Gaylord, State Police say I-75 is a common battleground for sudden whiteout conditions.

Most of their calls, he says, revolve around a loss of visibility leading to a loss of control.

“When you start to hydroplane, you start to turn,” Sgt. Gorno says. “Once you turn and nothing happens, you turn a little bit more and then all of a sudden it catches. Then, you are already too far into the game and you are going to lose control.”

Proper tires and driving slow, says Sgt. Gorno are key, something Brian has learned in his years on the road.

“Everybody’s out on the road, getting their last-minute Christmas shopping done,” Shariak says. “You just got to be careful, take it easy and be patient.”