Snowplows on road safety

Published: Dec. 23, 2017 at 10:43 PM CST
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According to the North Dakota Department of Transportation, in just one week, there have been several different accidents involving cars and snowplows. From the point of view of a snowplow driver, there are some things that those on the road should consider.

“It’s a very, very stressful job. You have a lot going on. You have a ton of different controls you’re watching,” Mike Svaleson, owner of Turf Tamers Lawn Care & Landscaping, explains. He has been plowing for eight seasons but even as an expert, the job isn’t easy.

Safety is the number one priority for a snowplow driver. "Obviously we want to get the job done, but we want to go home at the end of the day. And we don't want to be the cause of someone not going home," says Svaleson.

What drivers need to know is the size of these machines are part of the problem. "We definitely need space, some of our equipment is 14 ft. wide…15 ft. wide,” he says. Speed is also a factor." Most of our equipment does go around 25 mph and if we're going down a road that's 35 mph, it may take someone just a couple minutes longer to bear with us," he warns. Then when slick roads are added into the mix, things get complicated. "A lot of times it's icy, stuff like that. So it makes it a little trickier for us to stop," Svaleson says.

With all factors in mind, passing a plow may not be the best idea. The drivers have so much to juggle. "You're trying to pay attention to the front of your vehicle, to make sure you're not hitting anything as you're driving. And then you're also trying to pay attention behind you at the same time," he says.

Svaleson has some advice for when you encounter a snowplow on the road, "Just try and slow down, take a couple extra minutes and let us do our job and it's going to be a lot easier for you to drive behind if the snow is not on the road."