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Driving Safely Around Snow Plows

Remaining safe is a joint responsibility. When you see a snow plow, salt or sand truck on the road, please proceed with caution. Snow plows are built to remove large volumes of snow and ice and that means we’re packing a lot of weight. Our eyes are on the road, the snow, potential obstacles and dangers—we ask you to be patient. Give time and space to the vehicles at work for you. Never pass a snow plow on the right and only on the left when it is safe and legal to do so.

Here’s some helpful Do’s and Dont’s for motorists

DO…Turn on your head and tail lights during heavy snow or rain, even during the day.

DO…Use winter-rated snow tires with the mountain-snowflake symbol.

DO…Watch for the flashing amber lights.  It can be difficult to see snow removal equipment.

DO…Give snow plows plenty of space – about 10 car lengths.  Salt and winter abrasives, as well as rocks and other debris in the snow, can fly – hitting nearby vehicles and decreasing visibility.

DO…Remember the road surface ahead of the plow hasn’t been plowed yet therefore please slow down and be patient.  The operator will eventually pull over when it is safe to do so to allow motorists to pass, so take your time, wait and be safe.

DO…Pull as far over to the right as is safe when you see a snow plow approaching from the opposite direction along an undivided highway. That way, you will be clear of any salt or winter abrasives.

DO…Give the snow plow operator a wave when they pull over to let you pass. They’re doing the job for you!

DON’T…Assume the snow plow operator can see you, especially if you’re driving too close and visibility is poor (which it often is in snowstorms). Your best defense is to keep your distance.

Pass snow plows. It’s not safe.  When drivers attempt to pass a plow truck, they put themselves, their passengers, the snow plow operator and other motorists at risk. The plow could be equipped with a wing blade on its left or right side, which can be obstructed by the snow it’s throwing.  The plow also may be the first of a series of two to four more plows, staggered diagonally across the road to clear all lanes simultaneously. This practice is called Echelon Plowing and would require the unwise driver to make multiple unsafe passes.

DON’T…Tailgate.  Tailgating any vehicle puts you at risk of a collision; tailgating a piece of heavy equipment armed with plows only ups the consequences.

Drivers may not be aware…

  • Snow plows must travel slower than regular traffic when pushing snow and spreading salt and winter abrasives.
  • Snow plows stop at railway crossings to ensure it is safe to cross and that the plow blade will clear the track.