MnDOT asks motorists to drive safely around snowplows this year

Published 10:07 am Monday, November 16, 2015

Nearly 850 Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplows are ready for the snow, ice and sleet that can make winter driving a challenge for motorists, according to a press release. MnDOT is asking the public to keep in mind some safety tips when driving near snowplows.

“While our snowfighters are trained, qualified and ready to tackle another winter season, motorists are asked to be patient with the snowplows, don’t crowd the plow and drive according to the road conditions,” said Steve Lund, state maintenance engineer “It takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.”

Snowplows typically weigh more than 15 times more than the average car, making the odds for motorists who are involved in crashes to not fair very well.

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Last year in Minnesota, there were 60 crashes involving vehicles and snowplows. Crashes typically happen because of inattentive drivers, motorists driving too close to the plow or motorists driving too fast for conditions.

“Operators’ ability to see behind them is restricted behind the truck so they must rely on mirrors to see to the rear and side of the truck. Their vision is also hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing,” said Lund.

Minnesota law requires motorists to turn on their headlights when it’s snowing or at any other time when weather conditions impair visibility.

Here are some recommendations for safer driving this winter:

• Stay back and stay alive. Give the plows room to work. Stay back at least five car lengths and preferably 10 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.

“Snowplows also travel much slower than the posted speeds because it is most effective for clearing roads,” said Lund.

Motorists should also check road conditions at or call 511.