Winter driving near snow plows requires caution, patience

By: WYDOT
By: WYDOT

Cheyenne, WY (KGWN) - Two snow plows have been hit by citizen drivers in the past three weeks near Riverton and west of Dubois, prompting the Wyoming Department of Transportation to issue safety information to drivers about driving near snow plows.
One snow plow was hit Feb. 3 north of Riverton on Wyoming 789 when a vehicle passed the plow truck on its right side and struck the wing plow while attempting to pass through the snow cloud being pushed toward the right side of the truck by the plow. The other plow was hit Feb. 13 west of Dubois on U.S. 26/287 when a pickup truck's driver lost control in near-whiteout conditions and slid sideways into the front of a moving plow truck. Luckily, no serious injuries resulted from either crash.

Snow plows and their drivers are out on the highways every day and many nights attempting to provide a safe, high quality and efficient transportation system for the citizens of Wyoming.

WYDOT employees are on the roads when the conditions are the worst, and they're out there between storms, too.

WYDOT has many numerous bright yellow snow plows, and when working the roads, these plow trucks have amber, red and blue flashing lights mounted on top of the cab and on the back of the sanders.

Snow plows are huge machines, capable of moving tons of snow every minute. Operators of these snow plows are highly trained professionals.

These snow plow professionals need cooperation from drivers so they can do their jobs and keep the road safe for drivers. Simply, give the plow trucks room to operate.

"We want you to drive safely to your destination," said Jim Thomas, WYDOT area maintenance supervisor in Lander.

"Stay well back from operating snow plows," Thomas said. "They are spreading sand, anti-icing and de-icing chemicals on the roadway. It's always a good idea to stay back from snow plows while their operators are doing their jobs."

With limited visibility, snow plow drivers can't see vehicles behind them if the vehicles are too close to the plows.

"Remember, the safest driving surface is behind the plow. If you must pass, don't pass on the right into the plume of snow being moved," Thomas said. "Be sure on two-lane highways that you have plenty of time to pass. Keep a close watch, these huge plows often stir up their own whiteout conditions while doing their work."

WYDOT snow plows usually at a operate slower speed than other traffic. "Always remember our plows are helping to keep you safe," Thomas said. "We're on your team. A few extra minutes of travel time following a plow are well worth it when compared to the problems associated with being involved in a crash."

In the course of winter maintenance, WYDOT treats roads with liquid de-icers and anti-icers to keep ice bonding to our roadways, or to remove the ice if it has already formed.

While research verifies fewer accidents occur on treated highways, these de-icers and anti-icers can be sprayed up on vehicles from tires and wind. "It's a good idea to wash off de-icing and anti-icing chemicals from your vehicle," Thomas said. "Don't forget to keep your wiper reservoir full of washer fluid in case you experience splash-back."

Thomas said winter conditions sometimes dictate that roads are closed to travel. Reasons may include snow depth, limited visibility, high winds, and drifted snows. "We realize these closures may be frustrating if you're traveling or late for an appointment, but the road has been closed for a reason. In winter, give yourself extra time to reach your destination without having to drive faster than the conditions allow," Thomas said. "Winter driving requires a light touch and a cautious approach."

Thomas said drivers should remember that it takes extra time to slow down or stop on slick roads. "Don't use your cruise control, and drive at appropriate speeds. If you encounter poor visibility, slow down. Always slow down for safety. If you don't have to go, don't."

Drivers are encouraged to "know before you go" by calling 511 or checking road conditions at www.wyoroad.info.

For information about this news release, contact WYDOT Public Relations Specialist Cody Beers at (307) 431-1803 or @d5pio.


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