Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Jan. 18, 2019

MnDOT reminds drivers to use caution around snowplows

MANKATO, Minn. — (11:30 a.m.) The Minnesota Department of Transportation reminds motorists of the dangers of following snowplows too close during snow and ice operations. In addition to the reduced visibility from the snowstorm, snow plow trucks create a cloud when clearing the roadway.

“The rule of thumb is to stay 10 car lengths behind a snow plow,” explains Jed Falgren, maintenance operations manager in MnDOT District 7. “Our trucks can weigh 15 times more than a vehicle resulting in a very dangerous situation for the motorist.”

Falgren further explained that today’s storm is the ideal situation for snow clouds.  The light, fluffy snow gets tossed into the wind making a cloud that prohibits the motorist from seeing the plow and extended wing. One of MnDOT’s plows has already been hit along I-90 this morning.

MnDOT snowplow operators will do their part to make highways safe and motorists should remember to:

  • Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They also may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
  • Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
  • Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
  • Turn off the cruise control.
  • Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Check MnDOT’s road conditions map at www.511mn.org

For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to http://www.dot.state.mn.us/workzone/winter.html.

In south central Minnesota there are 83 snowplows that work the state highways in the 13-county MnDOT District 7. Crews have split their shifts today so that coverage will go well into the evening.