Without a doubt, this has been a more "normal" winter than usual in the Northland;   And by normal, we mean lots of snow, ice, and cold temperatures.  To combat those conditions, we are pretty used to seeing snowplows on our roadways this time of year.  Perhaps that commonplace nature leaves many drivers with a lax attitude towards snowplow safety concerns.

The Winter of 2018-2019 isn't even half way over and there have already been more than 25 crashes in the State of Minnesota that involved state snowplows.  It's for that reason that the Minnesota Department of Transportation is using all means of media to promote snowplow safety.

According to Todd Stevens - the acting State Maintenance Engineer for MNDOT:

The main causes of these crashes are motorists driving too fast for conditions, driving too close to the plow and driver inattention.  Our snowplow drivers are well-trained to operate their plows, which often travel much slower than the posted speeds because it is most effective for clearing roads. For safety’s sake, motorists need to be patient and stay back from the plow.

The safest place you can be is well behind the snowplow and away from the snow cloud it creates. The road is clear behind the plow but not necessarily in front of it, so in most cases it makes sense to travel behind the plow.

Here are some tips provided by MNDOT in regards to driving near snowplows:

  • Stay alert
  • Stay back - at least 10- car lengths.  Don't drive into a snow cloud.
  • Slow down
  • Turn on your headlights
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Turn off cruise control
  • Be patient
  • Don't drive distracted