ROCHESTER, Minn. – We still have plenty of winter ahead of us, which is why area transportation officials are concerned about how many crashes involving vehicles and snowplows have happened so far this season.
Throughout all of last year, there were 48 vehicle/plow crashes in the state according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. However so far this year, there have been more than 30.
Just this week, one of those collisions happened in our region when a MnDOT snowplow was rear-ended by a semi truck on I-35 near Faribault.
MnDOT officials are urging drivers to take extra caution around plow operations and to stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the snowplow. Often times, the plows create a “snow cloud” which can hamper visibility for both motorists and plow drivers.
“Look for those lights, the other thing is look for that snow cloud,” explains Mike Dougherty with MnDOT, District 6. “Common sense should tell you right there; something is creating that snow cloud.”
It’s recommended you begin reducing your speed as soon as you see a snowplow, especially on highways. Dougherty says that often times the plows are only traveling around 25 mph, so it’s important to give yourself enough time to slow down.
“A snow plow, if it’s fully loaded with salt, is upwards of 80,000 pounds so if you do strike it, it’s going to be like hitting a brick wall.”
While MnDOT drivers are well trained, they do have blind spots in the cab of the truck.
“Some of their blind spots are a challenge when they’re up in the cab of the truck,” he adds. “If it’s snowing, the visibility can be reduced and they’re trying to monitor a lot of mirrors.”
Here are some other MnDOT recommendations for safer driving around snowplows:
- Stay back and stay alive. Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
- Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They also may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
- 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.