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Christian radio DJ shares story of winter accident; urges drivers to show grace

Posted at 8:30 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 22:36:24-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Most of the main roads in West Michigan are now clear of snow that hit last week, but we all know they will soon be covered again.

And the next time you’re out in the snow, a local woman wants you to remember that the person in front of you may have a very good reason for driving “too slow.”

“It’s 4:31; we’re at 19; we are seeing a little light snow,” said Kathy Malott during her afternoon show on 91.3 WCSG.

FOX 17 stopped by the Christian radio studio on the campus of Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids to talk with Malott about her first winter in Michigan in 30 years.

She’s on every afternoon from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. with her brother Steve.

“So much fun; he’s hilarious and he’s a pro,” she said. “He knows the business, and he’s just guided me along.”

It’s her first on-air gig after working as a high school teacher in Washington state. She also spent winters in the south.

“I hear about a storm coming, and I’m just like, ‘I’m not getting in the car,’” said Malott.

Last Thursday while the winter weather was moving in, she brought up an accident on air from her past: a crash in the snow when she was just 16.

“I had just had my license just a couple months, and you know as a 16-year-old you don’t think anything’s ever going to happen to you,” she said.

Kathy and her friends were released early from school that day, and instead of going home they wanted to shop.

“So, we went up to Alpine, and we were gonna go shopping. I’m sure you know about Alpine--and it was really slick,” she said.

While pulling into a store Kathy hit a tree, totaling her car.

“it probably sounds really mild for what could’ve happened, but for me, being a new driver, I think for me it was the loss of control. Like, I just felt like because I didn’t have control, it did something to me that I don’t like to get into a car with slippery surfaces underneath me now,” she said.

Luckily no one was hurt. Even though it wasn’t a major accident involving others, those driving conditions still stick with her to this day. Heading out in the snow triggers those memories.

“It just left a little scar on me and a little bit of fear,” she said.

Kathy’s already had the safe driving talk with her daughter who’s now 16 herself. It’s likely an issue for thousands of new drivers.

According to the Michigan Secretary of State, since April 1 nearly 73,000 teens just got their license.

Meaning this will be their first winter driving in the snow and ice.

When you factor in those with learner's permits, 386,000+ teens in the entire state could be on the road at any given time.

As for older drivers, there are more than a million people in Michigan over 70 who may be taking it slow too.

Which is why Kathy hopes other drivers show some grace, as you never know who’s behind the wheel in front of you.

“What’s the rush, right? If they want to go slow, if they feel the need to be taking their time, respect that,” she said. “You don’t know what their day has been like, you know; you don’t know where they need to get to or what they have in the car--what precious cargo they’re carrying. Just always have grace for people, and don’t be in such a rush to get somewhere.”

Michigan State Police tell me if conditions are so extreme that someone drives under the minimum speed limit on the highway, the odds of getting pulled over for going too slow are very low.

If people are passing you, you can put on your hazards.

MSP says if you cannot operate your vehicle safely in the conditions and you end up going into a ditch or hitting someone else, you can get cited.

MORE: Michigan Vehicle Code for Speed Limits

MORE: Michigan Vehicle Code Maximum/Minimum Speed Limits

MORE: Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) Winter Driving Tips

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