Snowplow Safety

Snow Cloud? Snowplow Ahead? Slow Down!

Alberta – In the first two weeks of 2015, 10 snowplows have been hit on Alberta’s highways. Motorists are driving too close to snowplows, or driving too fast for the road conditions, and colliding into snowplows. Most of the time, this happens because drivers are “driving blind” into a snow cloud and rear ending the plow or trying to pass the plow and end up hitting a side-mounted wing blade. In 2014, 11 snowplows were hit during the entire year.
Motorists are strongly encouraged to following a few simple tips when driving around snowplows:

1. If you see a snow cloud ahead or have poor visibility, slow down and proceed with caution. Snowplows may create a snow cloud that makes it difficult for them to be seen, despite their bright safety lighting.

2. Staying a safe distance behind a snowplow will prevent a possible collision and protect your car or windshield from being sprayed by sanding material. A distance of at least four car lengths, subject to road and visibility conditions, also helps the snowplow operator to see you.

3. Snowplows move at much slower speeds than other vehicles. On the highway, snowplows normally don’t travel faster than 60 km/hr when plowing or spreading sand and salt.

4. Snowplows are on the road for your safety and are there when the roads are icy or snow covered. The safest place to be is well behind a plow. It is not recommended that you pass a snowplow. Operators will pull over at regular intervals to allow the traffic to pass safely. Depending on the type of highway, the snowplow could be using a left or right-mounted wing blade that is sometimes hidden by the snow it is throwing.

5. If a snowplow is approaching in oncoming traffic, pull to the right as much as possible and slow down to avoid being hit by sanding material. Operators don’t always have a chance to turn off the sand spinner when vehicles are passing.