Updated: Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010, 11:53 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010, 10:23 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- It's not just the weather police are adjusting to this winter. The new cable guardrail system is presenting challenges, as well.
Vehicle slide-offs have become a lot less routine for police, due in part to the system. What was once a matter of getting a wrecker to pull a car from a ditch has turned into a more time-consuming process as cars slide and scrape into the cable barriers.
It takes longer for police to assess the damage and clear the scene. The guardrail system also makes it more difficult for emergency vehicles to respond to crashes.
"We have to go further down the road to find a place to turn around or to an exit ramp to get out and then come back to assist a motorist," said First Lt. Mike Harvitt of Michigan State Police.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Transportation say they hear the concerns from police and motorists and are working on ways to make the system better for all. But the bottom line remains the same.
"They do save lives -- that's been proven," said Nick Shirripa of MDOT.
The cable guardrails are in place to prevent cars from crossing the median into oncoming traffic. That benefit, MDOT officials say, outweighs property damage complaints.
Michigan drivers will have to make some adjustments, knowing the guardrails will stay.
"Michigan motorists are really going to have to change their mind-set," Shirripa said. "No longer can you push the speed limit on a snowy road and just safely slide into a median. Now, you're going to encounter the cable guardrail system."
MDOT collected some guardrail data along I-94 near Van Buren County. Out of about 90 crashes, at least three didn't cross the median because of the system.
There's still a lot more study to be done.