MDOT: Surprises on traffic safety messages

MDOT: Surprises on traffic safety messages

New research yields surprises on traffic safety messages

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations with two academics studying the effect of safety messages on driver behavior.

Listen now:

TMT - New research yeilds surprises on traffic safety messages

First, Joshua Madsen, a professor of accounting and behavioral economics at the University of Minnesota, talks about a research report he co-authored — and highlighted in the Journal Science — that examined whether highway signs displaying traffic deaths reduce crashes.

In the second segment, Jerry Ullman, a senior research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, talks about a perspective he wrote to accompany the story in Science.


Madsen explains how he first encountered the messages while driving in Illinois and was struck by the starkness of the numbers. He wondered about context and how the numbers were derived.

As outlined in the story:

“Researchers focused on Texas, which consistently displayed the messages for one week every    month on 880 signs across the state’s highways. Researchers gathered data on all traffic crashes that happened on affected roads between 2010 and 2017. They compared crashes that occurred in weeks when fatality stats were displayed with those that happened during the rest of the month, taking care to compare only the accidents that happened at the same hour and on the same day of the week. They also controlled for weather and for holidays, which can independently affect the number of crashes.”

While conceding the difficulty of researching these topics, determining cause and affect and discerning what and when messages can influence behavior, Madsen cites one initiative with resonance: placing the wreckage of vehicles, which had been driven by a teenager, at rest areas.


During his segment, Ullman talks about whether the effect of higher fatality numbers is plausible and questioned whether drivers are really processing larger and smaller death rates differently. He says he would like to see more research on the cause of the increase. 

Ullman also talks about the importance of message design and other research on how optimism bias informs our judgment.

Podcast player photo: MDOT Dynamic Message Sign board displaying a safety message.

First portrait: Joshua Madsen, a professor of accounting and behavioral economics at the University of Minnesota.

Second portrait: Jerry Ullman, a senior research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Listen now at

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Elder Abuse Task Force Hosting Symposium

Elder Abuse Task Force Hosting Symposium

Attorney General Dana Nessel

Media contact:
Lynsey Mukomel

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Elder Abuse Task Force Hosting Symposium Next Week, Registration Remains Open

LANSING – The Elder Abuse Task Force (EATF) will host the first of two virtual symposiums next week to highlight topics relevant to protecting Michigan’s seniors and answer questions from attendees.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will open the public event. Those interested in participating can learn more by visiting the registration page online.

“The EATF continues to pursue important advocacy on behalf of our state’s elderly population,” Nessel said. “I encourage those interested in learning more about the task force’s impact and vital resources to attend this symposium.”

Scheduled topics include:

  • Resources for Members of the Public Interested in Protecting Older
  • Adults Adult Protective Services (APS) 101 Basic Understanding
  • How Can the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Help?
  • To Avoid Guardianships and Conservatorships: Speak for Yourself
  • Scams Targeting Seniors

Last month, the EATF released a new video on the Department’s YouTube page focused on the general rights each nursing home resident has and must be afforded, as well as steps to take in the event a resident’s rights have been violated.

Other EATF resources on YouTube include training modules on how to recognize, report, and prevent adult abuse, neglect and exploitation.

More information on the task force’s work can be found in its latest newsletter, which was released at the beginning of the year.

Outstanding Michigan Students Recognition Initiative

Outstanding Michigan Students Recognition Initiative

Header 2021


April 28, 2022

Contact: [email protected]


Gov. Whitmer Launches Outstanding Michigan Students Recognition Initiative During Student Appreciation Week

Parents, extended family, teachers, staff, and coaches encouraged to nominate outstanding students


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is seeking nominations from parents, extended family, teachers, staff, or coaches for Outstanding Michigan Students in celebration of Student Appreciation Week. They can be current students of any age who have shown exceptional skills, leadership abilities, or passionate community involvement. Outstanding Michigan students will be recognized by Governor Whitmer. Nominations will be accepted until Sunday, May 1.


“Michigan is home to many talented and hardworking students of all ages, and I’m excited to recognize their contributions and accomplishments to our great state. Whether it’s a third grader spearheading a playground cleanup, a high school senior graduating with high honors, or someone taking the next step to further their education, I know there will be many amazing stories shared,” said Governor Whitmer.  “We want students to know that we are doing everything we can to support them in their journey, which is why we’ve made record investments in our students, schools, and postsecondary education without raising taxes. We will continue improving every kid’s in-class experience, supporting educators who put their heart and soul into the classroom, and delivering resources to help schools upgrade facilities and equipment. Let’s keep working together to put Michigan students first.”


From her first day in office, Governor Whitmer has worked towards expanding and investing in opportunities for Michigan students. She made the largest education investment in state history for three years in a row without raising taxes. These investments have helped to close the funding gap between schools in Michigan, expand access to preschool programs for 22,000 more four-year-olds, and distributed resources to expand mental health supports for our kids. She also established and fully funded Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect to provide tens of thousands of Michiganders with tuition-free higher education or skills training that leads to a high-skill, good-paying job. These historic investments in our students ensure that they will receive a world-class education and help every student reach their full potential.


Nominate a student by clicking the following link:


Read more about how Governor Whitmer is supporting students, parents, and educators by clicking the following link:



Showcasing the DNR: One tree can make a difference

Showcasing the DNR: One tree can make a difference

DNR banner

Showcasing the DNR

spruce grouse on a tree branch

One tree can make a difference

Forest Resources Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Stubborn patches of lingering cold and snow across Michigan can’t stop the fact that spring is coming. Days are lengthening, migrating birds are returning from their tropical vacations, and perennial plants are gingerly peeking out of the softening soil as winter’s rigid frostiness melts away.

One of most satisfying ways to welcome the return of nature’s greenery, birdsong and blooms to the Midwest is to take part in the time-honored tradition of planting a tree around the Arbor Day holiday, which falls on April 29 this year.

Spring and fall are the best times of the year to plant trees, and there’s no time like the present to pick out a beautiful new tree at a local nursery, garden center, conservation district sale or landscaping supplier. Even if young trees just resemble sticks right now, they will soon put down roots, soak up sunshine and unfurl flowers and leaves.

Each tree is part of a statewide forest

man with baby in backpack carrier walks down wooden steps through forestMichigan’s 20 million acres of forests include about 100 native conifer and broadleaf tree varieties adapted to thrive in a variety of soils and climates. Learn about a few of them on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ growing tree species webpage.

Whether a tree grows on a sunny farm in the country, as part of a manicured suburban backyard or overlooking neon city lights from a pot on an urban balcony, it matters! Large or small, every tree provides an environmental benefit that improves the community it grows in.

Large expanses of state, national and private forests are important for many reasons. Older forests provide ideal habitat for deep-woods wildlife species like pine martens and spruce grouse. Younger forests are favored by woodland elk and wild turkeys. Dry, sandy jack pine forests that need fire to thrive are home to Kirtland’s warblers. Wetland forests, harboring cedar and willow trees that enjoy “wet feet,” are essential for waterfowl, fish and amphibians.

In addition to creating habitat, forests clean the water in lakes and streams, purify the air and provide renewable materials for products people use every day. Forests are also inspiring places for backcountry hiking, wildlife watching and exploring.

This doesn’t diminish the value of trees in urban settings – they’re critically important, too. Urban trees help bridge the gaps between larger expanses of natural areas. Each tree, shrub and native plant in a town or city is like a steppingstone for migrating songbirds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife as they flit and scurry about.

Trees in communities

view from the ground to the top of a large cedar treeTrees provide wildlife with places for nesting, food and shelter. They also provide benefits to the human communities where they grow.

Trees naturally perform a heavy lift that would be difficult and expensive to match by any human-made machine. They shade and cool cities from the sweltering effects of hot concrete and asphalt, soak up (through their roots) stormwater that can cause flooding and erosion, and boost air quality. For every 10% increase in urban tree canopy, lung-damaging ozone gas is reduced by 3% to 7%. Tree-lined streets have also been shown to reduce particles from car exhaust by as much as 60%.

Trees are also one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Michigan State University Extension reports that it takes about 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide to grow a pound of wood in a tree. That carbon becomes part of the tree and eventually part of durable goods such as homes and furniture, made from sustainably harvested trees.

Need another reason to plant a tree? Mature, healthy trees can increase property values as much as 15%. Most people would agree that it’s way easier to plant a tree than start a kitchen remodeling project.

These benefits can be put into a tangible number using a tree value calculator such as My Tree from the USDA Forest Service. The My Tree calculator estimates a tree’s benefits in monetary terms from expected impacts on air pollution, carbon absorption and stormwater interception, among other categories.

For example, a 36-inch-diameter red maple in the Lansing area that receives full sun might bring a benefit equal to $330 in the next 20 years by absorbing about 13,500 pounds of carbon, intercepting nearly 30,000 gallons of rainfall and removing toxic gases like carbon monoxide, ozone and sulfur dioxide from the air we breathe. The value from the carbon the tree already had absorbed in its lifetime would equal nearly $900.

As exciting as it is to be able to put a tree’s value into monetary terms, the dollar doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s impossible to truly measure the joy a tree’s blooms can bring in the springtime after a long winter, or how special it is for a child to watch a family of robins hatch and fledge baby birds from a nest built in its branches.

Plant trees, grow community

three young girls kneel on the ground to plant a tree seedlingReady to plant a tree? The most important consideration is “right tree, right place.” Not all trees need the same conditions to thrive. Put simply, a horse and a hamster are both pets, but you wouldn’t feed or house them the same way. The same goes for trees! A towering white pine might be a great fit for a sunny, open space, while a small, flowering redbud might be better suited to an area with power lines or partial shade.

Some things to consider before getting your shovel ready are:

  • Growing zone.
  • Soil conditions and moisture at the site.
  • Wind and sun exposure.
  • Infrastructure (avoid pipes and power lines – call 811 before you dig to have lines marked for free).

Tree-planting resources from the Arbor Day Foundation, which celebrates a milestone 150 years of Arbor Day in 2022, will help people pick the right species for their area with tools such as species profiles and how-to sheets.

trees lined up during giveaway event at Outdoor Adventure CenterIn addition to providing tree-planting grants and technical support for communities, the DNR has pledged to plant 50 million trees in Michigan by 2030 as part of the global Trillion Trees campaign. Want to lend hand? Let us know if you planted a tree, or trees, since 2021 by adding it to our interactive map. With each tree planted and logged, we’ll be able to see the canopy grow.

So celebrate Arbor Day – and springtime’s return – by planting a tree. It may seem like a small step, but it will make a big difference in your community, your state and the natural world around you.

Find more ideas about ways to mark the occasion, and more information about trees and tree planting, at

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at

Note to editors: Contact: John Pepin, Showcasing the DNR series editor, 906-226-1352. Accompanying photos and a text-only version of this story are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Text-only version of this story.

Cedar: In addition to creating wildlife habitat, trees – like this cedar, near the Au Sable River in the northern Lower Peninsula – clean the water in lakes and streams, purify the air and provide renewable materials for products people use every day.

Fall: Michigan offers plenty of opportunities for popular outdoor pastimes like spotting fall foliage, with the state’s millions of acres of forests.

Giveaway: As part of a partnership with The Greening of Detroit and the Detroit Pistons, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gave away 150 free trees – along with planting instructions and advice on picking the right tree for the planting location – during an event at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit in the fall of 2021.

Hike: Michigan’s forests are inspiring places for backcountry hiking, wildlife watching and exploring. Here, hikers enjoy an outing at Warren Woods State Park in Berrien County.

Planting: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has pledged to plant 50 million trees in Michigan by 2030 as part of the global Trillion Trees campaign. Here, elementary school students participate in a tree-planting day at the DNR Grouse Enhanced Management Site on Drummond Island in Chippewa County.

Sign: The Arbor Day Foundation celebrates a milestone 150 years of Arbor Day, which will be observed April 29 this year, in 2022.

Spruce grouse: Older forests provide ideal habitat for deep-woods wildlife species like pine martens and spruce grouse, pictured here.

Tree-NA: Michigan’s 20 million acres of forests include about 100 native conifer and broadleaf tree varieties. Learn about a few of them – like the eastern redbud, featured in this “Tree-NA” graphic – on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website at

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to
Oakland County’s Annual Main Event Awards Program

Oakland County’s Annual Main Event Awards Program

National Main Street Program Founder Mary Means Keynotes Main Street Oakland County’s Annual Main Event Awards Program

  • First in-person Main Event program since 2019.
  • Main Street Oakland County will welcome Lyon Township and the Huron Corridor – Pontiac as new districts.
  • Keynote address will include envisioning Main Street’s future.Pontiac, Michigan –  Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) is hosting Mary Means, founder of the national main street movement, as keynote speaker during its annual Main Event awards program Thursday, May 5 at the Flagstar Strand Theatre in Pontiac. The theme is “Together Again” since it will be the first in-person Main Event ceremony since 2019.In addition to recognizing businesses and communities with nine award categories, MSOC will welcome Lyon Township and the Huron Corridor – Pontiac as new districts and Auburn Hills and South Lyon will advance to the Partner Program level during this year’s celebration.

    “Our Main Street communities engaged quickly and creatively with their local small businesses to help them adjust, survive, and reopen safely during the pandemic,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said. “As vital economic development partners with the county, they coordinated grant programs from their own resources, as well as the county and state grants, and distributed PPE to small businesses.”

    The Main Event runs from 6-9 p.m. and is open to anyone interested in historic preservation and the economic development of downtowns and historic commercial districts.  Tickets are $35 and available online until May 1 at

    The keynote address, “How Story Saved the Nation’s Main Streets,” will recount the beginnings of the main street movement in the 1980s. Means and three novice main street managers began to write a different story about historic downtowns, never imagining that 40 years later the movement would develop into a vibrant network of more than 1,600 communities in 40 states. She will share her insights, how the power of story underpins it all, and what she envisions for Main Street’s future.

    Twenty-five MSOC communities were eligible to submit nominations. They are Auburn Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Clarkston, Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Groveland Township, Hazel Park, Highland, Holly, Holly Township, Lake Orion, Lathrup Village, Leonard, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester, Royal Oak, South Lyon, and Wixom.

    During the ceremony, MSOC will make an announcement regarding presenting sponsor DTE Foundation. MSOC will also recount program milestones and recognize the other sponsors who are Genisys Credit Union, SMART, McLaren Oakland, Dobrusin Law, and Oakland County Business Finance Corporation.

    About Mary Means
    As the CEO of Mary Means & Associates in Maryland, Means is a leader in place-based community development, helping communities optimize their historic character. She has committed her life to helping clients build bridges between plans and people and has been recognized by the American Planning Association, who gave her its “Planning Pioneer Award.” The National Trust for Historic Preservation named her the recipient of the “Crowninshield Award,” the highest honor in historic preservation. She is the author of “Main Street’s Comeback and How It Can Come Back Again.”

    About Main Street Oakland County
    Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) is our unique economic development program for downtowns, with a historic preservation philosophy and an emphasis on “sense of place.” We assist local governments, downtown management organizations and nonprofit organizations develop their downtowns and historic commercial corridors as vibrant, successful districts that serve as the heart of their communities. Established in 2000, MSOC is the nation’s first and only county-wide coordinating Main Street program. Our mission is to maximize the economic potential and to preserve the heritage and sense of place of Oakland County’s historic downtowns and commercial districts by encouraging and facilitating the use of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® that emphasizes comprehensive economic development within the context of historic preservation. Since 2001, the cumulative total for new public and private investment in MSOC downtowns is $1,044,243,193.