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Snowplowing operations require caution by all

November 26, 2011
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

As we approach the winter season, and snowplowing operations on streets and roads become frequent again, we all need a refresher course in some of the things to be aware of from the standpoint of both the plow operator and the motorist.

As drivers, we are certainly aware of the need to plow, sand and salt our roads, and we are thankful for the job our crews do to make our driving as safe as possible under testy conditions. We also sometimes get aggravated if we must follow these snowplows for any distance, and wonder why they don't pull over and let us pass. We forget that they must plow so many miles of road - if they keep pulling over, the job will not get done.

What drivers need to know is what it is like to operate a snowplow and some of the dangers as seen from the viewpoint of the plow driver. Since most of us have never had the opportunity to ride in a snowplow during a snowstorm, I will try to shed a little of what the driver is thinking about and some of the problems that motorists cause them.

By nature of the task of clearing our roads of snow, plowing operations take place during very poor visibility. Therefore, we need to be aware that other vehicles complicate plowing operations. Vehicles tend to follow plows too closely. The nature of clearing the roads of snow requires plows to back up, usually at intersections, where they must turn the corner, dump the load of snow and back up to go in the other direction. Too often vehicles fill the space where the plow must back into. Give the plow plenty of space, especially at intersections.

Another major consideration is that the center of the road must be cleared which necessitates the front left part of the plow crossing the center line into the oncoming lane. This means oncoming vehicles must move to the right side of their lane, giving plenty of space for the plow blade. And, slow down.

When winter really gets serious, I have been invited to take a ride with a snowplow operator, and do a follow-up on the hazards of plowing. Meanwhile, be aware of the difficulties that a plow driver must contend with, including a large vehicle, a large, heavy plow on the front, a wing plow on the side, all of which must be operated by one person while driving this rig in poor visibility at all times of the day and night, and still contend with other motorists that do not appreciate this difficult and dangerous task.


For more on traffic safety, go to and, under "Departments," click on "Traffic Safety Board." You will find a section of "Did You Know" articles alphabetically arranged.



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