Snowplows Are a Friendly Hazard

As business owners send their employees out into the cold for business, the Washington State Department of Transportation offers the following warnings to drivers sharing the road with snowplows.

Snowplows are usually spreading anti-icing materials from the back of the truck and may need to stop or take evasive action to avoid stranded vehicles. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay well behind it or use caution when passing. The road behind a snowplow will be safer to drive on.

Don’t crowd the plow. Snowplows are wide—sometimes very wide. The front plow extends several feet in front of the truck and can cross the centerline and shoulders during plowing operations. Plows turn and exit the roadsnow-plow frequently. Give them plenty of room. Stay back at least 15 car lengths (200 feet).

Watch for snowplows operating in the lanes of oncoming traffic. They can represent a hazard to vehicles in cross-traffic as well, so be alert and give way. Snowplows can throw up a cloud of snow that can reduce your visibility to zero in less time than you can react. Drive cautiously. Never drive into a snow cloud—it could conceal a snowplow or another road hazard.

A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.

Snowplows are a welcome sight when nasty weather affects the roads, but business vehicle accidents are most unwelcome. Encourage your employees to allow themselves enough time to travel safely, and educate them on cautious driving around snowplows.