- Beth Petrowske
MnDOT District 1
1123 Mesaba Ave
Duluth, MN 55811
Motorists asked to drive responsibly, cautiously near snow plows
DULUTH, Minn. — Northeastern Minnesota Department of Transportation snow plow crews have reported several dangerous encounters with motorists recently that could have resulted in serious crashes.
“Driving irresponsibly around snow plows is dangerous and can be deadly,” said Pat Huston, District 1 Maintenance engineer. “Our operators do the best they can to keep our roadways safer for everyone. Please stay at least five car-lengths behind the plows or pass with extreme caution.”
Snow plow trucks can be twice as wide as a semi-truck. They have plows that extend 12 to 15 feet out from the front of the truck and side “wing” plows that extend eight to ten feet from the side of the truck.
Last week a MnDOT snow plow operator was plowing with his front plow and side plow, when vehicles passed him on the left and right side simultaneously.
“Our operators are well trained and have good driving skills,” said Chris Cheney, MnDOT Border Area Truck Station supervisor. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to avoid several potentially serious crashes.”
MnDOT plow operators monitor an entire console of controls and technology to operate a snow plow truck. While plowing they can create blinding snow clouds that make it hard for them to see motorists and for motorists to see them.
Motorists should remember to:
- Check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511; it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
- Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
- Stay back at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud. Snowplow operators will pull over when it is safe to do so to allow traffic build-up to pass.
- Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They may also travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
- Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone.